European Union foreign ministers on Thursday discussed a proposal by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to spend up to €20 billion ($22.4 billion) on weapons, ammunition and other military aid for Ukraine over four years.
According to EU officials and diplomats, Josep Borrell proposed adding an annual contribution of up to €5 billion for Ukraine into an EU-managed fund called the European Peace Facility to support Ukraine as it fights a Russian invasion.
The fund has already disbursed over €5 billion in support to Ukraine since February of last year. If approved, the additional funding would span from 2024 to 2027, ensuring a more stable and sustainable supply of military aid to Ukraine.
"This is the evaluation of the needs and the cost of our long-term security commitments to Ukraine," Borrell told a news conference after the meeting.
Borrell had previously called for a new funding mechanism called the "Ukraine Defence Fund," emphasizing the importance of maintaining Ukraine's security during and after the conflict. The Peace Facility would reimburse EU countries for a part of their expenses when providing weapons, ammunition and military aid to countries outside the EU.
The plan would need more scrutiny from EU governments before any decision is made.
"A fund for the defence of Ukraine is going to be developed," Portuguese Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho told reporters. "As for the amounts, we are not there yet."
EU governments are also set to consider a separate proposal from the European Commission, which seeks to provide €50 billion in economic aid to Ukraine over the same four-year period.
'Major global food supply crisis' due to suspension of grain exports
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent reelection and his turnaround in Sweden's NATO membership bid were also discussed.
"We are convinced there is a reciprocal interest to develop a stronger relationship between Turkey and the European Union," Borrell said.
Turkey played a crucial mediating role in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and is currently working to revive a United Nations-brokered grain deal.
According to Borrell, Russia was responsible for a major global food supply crisis, the EU's foreign policy chief said days after the Kremlin announced it would suspend the agreement for Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced plans to increase international efforts aimed at transporting grain out of Ukraine after Russia suspended its export deal.
Baerbock: Putin's threat to ships an 'attack on international order'
Baerbock described an option of transporting grain out of the country via rail so the food reaches the people who urgently need it rather than "rot in silos in the coming weeks."
Baerbock said Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats toward merchant ships in the Black Sea were "an attack on the international order."
los/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)