Leaders of the European Union (EU) will be deciding on a lethal weapons package to assist Ukraine’s defense against an ongoing Russian invasion.
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell announced the European Council is in support of a decision to offer Ukraine lethal assistance on Sunday night during an informal video conference of foreign affairs ministers.
“We want to do everything to support Ukraine. We have decided to use our capacities to provide arms, lethal arms, lethal assistance to [the] Ukrainian army,” Borell said, adding that the 450 million euro (around $500 million) support package to be discussed includes fighters, arms and fighter jets.
The EU’s move to support lethal assistance to Ukraine closely follows Germany’s historic decision to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger anti-aircraft defense systems to Ukraine.
Borell said that 50 million euros worth of non-lethal supplies, fuel and protective equipment will also be provided as part of the support package. He added that although political decisions cannot be made during an informal meeting, written procedure will follow.
European leaders have been working over the weekend to finalize decisions on sanctions against Russia after the country launched a full-blown military invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday. On Saturday, the EU committed to blocking some Russian banks out of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the messaging network that connects financial institutions from around the world.
A Ukrainian journalist present at the briefing asked why only a number of Russian banks were being blocked from SWIFT.
Borell said that a country like Russia is strongly interrelated with other economies and thus cannot be completely disconnected from the global financial system overnight.
“This degree of disconnection is carefully calibrated in order to create the maximum damage to the financial system of Russia while keeping the minimum level of interconnection with other financial systems,” Borell said.
The names and number of the Russian banks to be disconnected are yet to be determined, Borell said.
“We’ll have to wait for some hours. It’s not easy to decide these kinds of things and we are working against the clock because everything has to be done before tomorrow morning,” Borell said.
In addition to the weapons package, the EU has plans to ban a number of Russian state-owned broadcasting networks in the union.