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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Von der Leyen promises Ukraine further energy aid

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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Together with the European Energy Community, more than 150 million euros will be made available for the purchase of important energy technology, she said at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday. She also announced a new package of sanctions.

More power generators in prospect

In addition to the 3,000 power generators delivered since the beginning of the war, the EU will provide a further 2,400. Ukraine is also invited to participate in the EU platform for joint gas purchasing. “We ensure that electricity continues to flow through the grid despite the attacks,” said von der Leyen. “We will survive this winter, dear Volodymyr, and many more.”

Tenth package of sanctions against Russia

Von der Leyen also announced further sanctions against Russia. “Between now and February 24, exactly one year after the start of the invasion, we want to complete a tenth package of sanctions,” she said in Kyiv. The sanctions imposed so far have already caused considerable damage to the Russian economy. The price cap for Russian oil alone costs Moscow “about 160 million euros a day,” said the Commission President.

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The new sanctions package, which has been in preparation since December, is expected to include new entry and asset freezes for those responsible in Russia and its ally Belarus. A price cap for Russian mineral oil products such as diesel or kerosene is also to come into force on Sunday, and representatives of the EU states are still discussing the amount. All sanctions require a unanimous decision by the 27 EU countries.

Von der Leyen also announced “that an international center for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine” would be set up in The Hague. According to her, it should coordinate the collection of evidence on the Russian war of aggression. “The perpetrator must be held accountable,” she emphasized.

Lavrov calls sanctions “National Socialism”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused von der Leyen of destructive intentions in a detailed studio interview on Russian state television on Thursday. Lavrov said the head of the commission wanted Russia’s economy not to be able to recover “for many decades”. “Isn’t that racism, not National Socialism – not an attempt to solve ‘the Russian question’?” asked Lavrov, referring to the Second World War. On Thursday, Russia marked the 80th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s victory over Nazi Germany’s troops in the Battle of Stalingrad.

The EU Commission President arrived in Kyiv on Thursday morning together with 15 Commission members. “We are here together to show that the EU is as committed to Ukraine as ever,” she wrote on Twitter after her arrival. The highlight of the trip is to be an EU-Ukraine summit on Friday. EU Council President Charles Michel is also expected to attend, but not the heads of state and government of the 27 member states.

The talks in Kyiv should therefore also deal with further necessary progress, for example in the fight against corruption and possible EU support. Further topics will be the dismantling of trade barriers, humanitarian and military aid and the planned admission of Ukraine to the EU roaming area. The latter would mean that Ukrainians could use their mobile devices to make calls, text messages and use data services within the EU without having to fear additional costs. Likewise, this would apply to EU citizens in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address to his compatriots that he expected decisions by EU partners that corresponded to the obvious progress made with reforms. He was referring to the fact that the EU admitted Ukraine to the list of candidate countries last June, but made the start of negotiations on accession conditional on the fulfillment of seven conditions.

In Kyiv, von der Leyen praised the recent action by the Ukrainian authorities against corruption in the country. She was “encouraged” to see that Ukraine’s anti-corruption authorities “are effective in uncovering corruption cases,” she said.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal in Kyiv on Thursday. Borrell said on Twitter that the EU would train 15,000 more Ukrainian soldiers and support demining in the country with 25 million euros.

Borrell thus confirmed earlier statements by Brussels that the member states now want to train a total of 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers on EU territory, twice as many as previously agreed. The soldiers should therefore learn, among other things, how to use Leopard main battle tanks. According to the foreign policy officer, the training is being carried out as part of the military support mission for Ukraine (EU Military Assistance Mission, EUMAM).

According to the EU Commission, in addition to von der Leyen and Borrell, the Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager, Valdis Dombrovskis, Vera Jourova and Margaritis Schinas were part of the EU delegation in Kyiv. For emergencies in Brussels, the other Vice-President Frans Timmermans stayed. He is number two in the EU Commission and would take over her duties on an interim basis if President von der Leyen were to fail, for example as a result of a Russian attack on Kyiv.

Source: Nachrichten

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