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VERSAILLES, France – Not for the first time, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell appears to have jumped the gun when he announced military aid to Ukraine.
At an EU summit in Versailles, Borrell made it clear that the leaders had agreed to use another 500 million euros from European Peace Foundation (EPF) – a military aid fund – to help Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.
That figure would be more than 500 million euros in weapons and equipment from a fund the EU agreed to give Ukraine. February 27 – for the first time the bloc decides to supply arms to a country under attack.
“Yesterday I proposed this to the leadership. And the European Peace Organization will double its support with an additional 500€ [milllion] much more,” Borrell told reporters Friday morning.
When asked if it would be difficult to convince EU member states to support the extension of the EPF, Borrell replied: “No, not at all. Everyone is fully aware that we have to increase our military support to Ukraine, to continue to put pressure on Russia… So let’s raise another 500 million euros.”
But two of the EU’s most prominent national leaders, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, said a €500 million increase was not in their consideration. And it was not mentioned in the finals of the leaders declare.
Scholz told reporters at the end of the summit that “the issue is not the subject of our discussions or decision-making.”
The Prime Minister appeared open to the general idea, saying he did not think Borrell had found anyone opposed to more EU involvement through the fund. But he made it clear that 500 million euros is among the many possibilities being considered to assist Ukraine. “The Commission will then make recommendations,” he said.
Rutte looked confused when asked if leaders would agree with the “No, no, no” measure, he said. “I heard this story, so it could be something [that] playing in [European] The commission… but it has not been decided together yet. ”
“We are trying to agree on such a quick process and on so many issues but this has not been agreed on today’s conclusion,” Rutte said.
The early pledge from Borrell – who has previously been criticized for using imprecise language – comes just weeks after he caused international confusion when he announced that the EU would supply fighter jets. fight for Ukraine.
He backtracked on that announcement the next day saying the transfers would come from individual EU countries and not from the bloc itself. But even that prospect will soon fallwhen Washington rejected Poland’s plan to send jets to Ukraine using the United States as a mediator.
Regarding a possible €500 million increase in the EPF for Ukraine, European Council President Charles Michel on Friday also indicated an agreement had been reached. Speaking in French at the summit closing press conference, Mr speak that “orientation has been taken to add an additional €500 million to the Peace Foundation.”
Spokespersons for both Borrell and Michel later admitted 500 million euros was a proposal on the table, not something that had been explicitly agreed upon.
In their summit statement, EU leaders said they “will support our partners through all available tools, including through increased use of the Facility.” European Peace,” but said nothing about the size of that increase.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Pleenković said the Peace Fund was “regarded by most capitals as an active tool” but acknowledged that there was “no official decision” to add 500 million euros.
Jacopo Barigazzi, Suzanne Lynch, David M. Herszenhorn, Antonia Zimmermann and Camille Gijs contributed reporting.
https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-borrell-military-spend-momentum-false-step/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication EU's Borrell pledges €500 million in military aid to Ukraine soon - POLITICO