EU disappoints Ukraine by failing to agree on air defence deliveries

EU disappoints Ukraine by failing to agree on air defence deliveries


Ukraine has asked for seven additional US-made Patriot air defence systems.

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BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union on Monday frustrated Ukraine's urgent plea for more air defence capabilities by failing to come up with concrete commitments at a meeting of foreign and defence ministers.

"We can prevent the worst-case scenarios if we act together and without fear. We need concrete and bold decisions today," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told his EU counterparts via videolink.

"Now that you are all here at the table, it's time to act, not to debate."

Ukraine has asked for seven additional US-made Patriot air defence systems capable of shooting down Russia's hypersonic missiles – but is keen to get any help it can.

So far only Germany has answered Kyiv's call by saying it would send an extra Patriot system to Ukraine.

Several EU nations possess the systems, including Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that he expected more NATO countries to make announcements on additional air defence gear for Kyiv "soon".

But after the EU meeting, ministers said there were still no clear new commitments.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said however there was a "common and clear understanding" among the member states on the urgency of the situation.

"It's up to them to take the decisions," he said.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said after the meeting he wished the EU "could proceed more quickly".

He said Poland, as a front-line state neighbouring both Russia and Ukraine, could not spare either of the two Patriot systems it had.

"The ones in western Europe, we feel could be more usefully deployed in Ukraine," he said.

Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren said: "We are exploring every avenue."


Ukraine's renewed appeal for help came after US lawmakers eased pressure on Europe by unblocking a major aid package.

The US House of Representatives on Saturday cheered Ukraine and its allies by approving a $61 billion package for Kyiv after six months of political wrangling.

During the impasse over the US aid, Europe struggled to come up with the weaponry needed to keep Kyiv in the fight as Ukrainian forces were being pushed back along the front lines.

Now that the US looks set to deliver, European ministers and Kyiv insisted it was not the time for the EU to ease off its support for Ukraine.

"We in Europe cannot and should not relax," Kuleba said.

Latvia's Foreign Minister Baiba Braze said Europe "has to step up – it's a crucial time".

"We dodged a historic bullet but, unfortunately, many more bullets are on the way," said Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

"We can be joyous for a day, but we have to be prepared for the battles to come tomorrow," he said.