European Union leaders gave the green light on Friday to a plan to provide Ukraine with $18 billion in financial support over the next year, after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia is trying to spark an exodus of refugees by destroying the energy infrastructure of your country.
The plan, endorsed at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, would see the 27-nation bloc match US financial support for war-torn Ukraine in monthly installments.
“Ukraine tells us that it needs about 3-4 billion euros per month to have enough resources for the basics,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. She said that figure would be covered equally by the EU and the US, plus additional money from international financial institutions.
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“It is very important for Ukraine to have a predictable and stable stream of income,” von der Leyen told reporters. She said the EU is looking to provide around 1.5 billion euros each month, describing it as an amount of funding that would be “stable and reliable”.
The bloc’s finance ministers have been tasked with devising a system to pool the money, which would add to the 9 billion euros in macro-financing support the EU is already sending.
Von der Leyen also criticized Russia’s “heinous and deliberate” attacks on civilians and infrastructure. Nearly eight months into the war, Russia has increasingly targeted Ukraine’s power plants, waterworks and other key infrastructure with missile and drone strikes.
In an address to leaders via video link on Thursday, Zelenskyy said that “attacks by Russian cruise missiles and Iranian combat drones have destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure.”
The president added: “Russia also provokes a new wave of migration of Ukrainians to EU countries”, by attacking sources of electricity and heating “so that as many Ukrainians as possible move to their countries”.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas described the attacks on civilian infrastructure as “pure terrorism”.
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Russia’s attacks are meant to “scare us. It is to make us refrain from decisions that we would otherwise make, and it is terrible that it is possible to do this in the year 2022,” Kallas told reporters.
His Latvian counterpart Krisjanis Karins added: “Russia’s war is becoming more and more brutal, now brazenly directed not against the Ukrainian army but against Ukrainian citizens.”
More than 4.3 million Ukrainian citizens have registered for temporary protection in the EU. Poland hosts almost a third of them.
In a summit statement, EU leaders said they “will support Ukraine for as long as necessary” with continued political, military and economic support. They also said the bloc will “intensify its humanitarian response, in particular for winter preparation.”
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The EU is deeply divided on how to handle the arrival of unauthorized migrants, an issue that is at the heart of one of the biggest political crises in the bloc’s history. But many countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe, have so far put aside their objections to taking in large numbers of war refugees from Ukraine.
The leaders also warned Belarus not to help Russia in the war. Ukraine’s military leaders said this week that Russia is deploying planes and troops to Belarus and that Russian forces could strike from there to cut off supply routes for Western weapons and equipment.
“The Belarusian regime must fully comply with its obligations under international law. The European Union remains ready to act quickly with further sanctions against Belarus,” the summit statement said.