EU eyes more Ukraine arms aid, big Russia sanctions

VERSAILLES: The European Union on Saturday eyed an extra 500 million euros in military support for Ukraine and fresh sanctions on Russia, as Moscow s war spurred vows to bolster the bloc’s defences.

EU leaders meeting for a summit in France’s Palace of Versailles described Moscow s attack on Ukraine as a wake-up call for the 27-nation bloc to take a tougher approach to ensuring its security.

“There s no denying the fact that two weeks ago we woke up in a different Europe, in a different world,” European Council chief Charles Michel said.

The EU s executive put forward a proposal to double its financing for sending weapons to Ukraine to one billion euros as the West scrambles to back Kyiv s forces in the face of the Kremlin s onslaught.

The bloc last month broke a longstanding taboo by agreeing to pay for arms deliveries to Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of his pro-Western neighbour.

The move was part of a broad push by Ukraine’s allies to send weapons amid desperate pleas from Kyiv for air defence systems after calls to impose a no-fly zone were rebuffed.

Alongside further arms supplies, EU leaders also said they were readying a fresh round of economic punishment as they look to keep up pressure on Putin over the bloodshed.

The West has already hit Moscow with a barrage of unprecedented sanctions but the EU has so far failed to agree to follow the US lead in hitting Russia’s key oil and gas exports.

Read more: High-level talks between Russia and Ukraine fail

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would talk to Putin again in the coming hours with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Macron warned the Kremlin leader of further “massive sanctions” if he steps up the bombing or seeks to beseige Ukraine s capital Kyiv.

“In that case, nothing is off the table, nothing is taboo,” Macron said.

“We will do whatever we deem to be effective and useful to halt Russia in its aggression.”

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen later said the bloc will ban the export of luxury goods to Russia, striking a “direct blow to the Russian elite”.

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