EU ministers warned not to relax support for Ukraine amid requests for air defence aid

Conflicts 09:00 23.04.2024

EU ministers have been warned against “relaxing” support for Ukraine but stopped short of new pledges to supply air defence systems that Kyiv is urgently seeking to defend itself against relentless Russian bombardment, Ednews reports via The Guardian.

The Ukrainian government has said it is running out of US-made Patriot air defence missiles as Russia intensifies attacks on infrastructure and cities.

Germany, which earlier this month promised to deliver a third Patriot battery to Kyiv, has been leading efforts to bolster Ukraine’s air defences. “Every additional air defence system saves lives in Ukraine,” said Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock. “We urgently appeal to everyone to review their stocks once again.”

At a meeting of the EU’s foreign and defence ministers on Monday, the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, said: “We have been asking all member states to do whatever they can in order to increase the air defence capacity of Ukraine.”

At that meeting, Kyiv’s most vocal allies urged their counterparts not to be complacent about Ukraine’s defence, after US lawmakers’ approval of a $61bn (€57bn, £49bn) aid package for the country.

Baiba Braže, Latvia’s new foreign minister, said: “As Europeans we have to step up; we can’t relax, even though the US has passed the aid package.”

Her Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, struck a similar note in describing the long-delayed approval by the US House of Representatives of the package on Saturday. “We dodged a historic bullet, but unfortunately many more bullets are on the way. Therefore we can be joyous today but we have to be prepared for the battle that is coming tomorrow,” he said. “We have to continue to speak about how we are going to assist Ukraine further.”

After the recent promise of the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to deliver a third system to Ukraine, EU member states are under growing pressure to transfer similar defence systems to the battlefields rather than leaving them in storage.

“Patriots can only be called air defence systems if they work and save lives rather than standing immobile somewhere in storage bases,” Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote on Sunday.

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