Borrell: Russia has 350,000 soldiers at the front, the EU must speed up support for Ukraine

Borrell: Russia has 350,000 soldiers at the front, the EU must speed up support for Ukraine

Borrell: Russia has 350,000 troops at the front, the EU must speed up support for Ukraine

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell before a meeting of foreign ministers of the bloc's member states, January 23, 2023.

Brussels/London – The Russian army is preparing 350,000 soldiers at the front line for the crucial next weeks of the war. The European Union must therefore speed up military support to Ukraine, especially the supply of ammunition. After today's meeting of the foreign ministers of the member countries, this was said by the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, according to whom no specific proposal emerged from the debate on joint purchases of weapons and ammunition. According to him, the ministers agreed on the need to quickly approve the tenth package of anti-Russian sanctions, which will be adopted by Friday, the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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In anticipation of a Russian offensive, Kiev is asking its Western allies for quick supplies of weapons and especially ammunition, which the army of the attacked country is running out of. According to Borrell, almost twice as many Russian soldiers are now ready for the offensive as there were a year ago at the start of the invasion.

“We need to respond quickly, not just increase support, but do it quickly. Speed ​​saves lives,” Borrell said after the meeting, where the ministers discussed, among other things, Estonia's proposal for joint purchases of arms and ammunition. They are supposed to convince the arms industry to increase production and speed up the supply of the armies, including the Ukrainian one.

According to Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský, government representatives agreed to continue supporting Ukraine, but did not support any specific plan.

“If we know that the expansion of ammunition production requires some broader investment, for which we need to find resources together, then let's look for a joint solution,” said Lipavský after the meeting. According to him, the specific decision is up to the ministers of defense rather than foreign affairs. Borrell said in this context that he wants to prepare a draft joint plan for the meeting of defense ministers scheduled for March 7.

Borrell added that today's adoption of the tenth package of anti-Russian sanctions had great support, the details of which, however, must be fine-tuned by the states in the next “hours and days”. However, the EU will accept it no later than Friday's anniversary of the Russian invasion, added Borrell.

The EU and London have expanded sanctions against Tehran for suppressing protests

Today, the European Union added 32 more names to the list of Iranian officials against whom it applies sanctions for the harsh suppression of anti-regime protests. The foreign ministers of the EU countries agreed to include two ministers or several legislators and judges on the list, which has grown to more than two hundred names since its introduction last year. Shortly afterwards, the British government announced the expansion of its own list by eight names, including three judges.

The European bloc adopted new sanctions against Iran in response to an ongoing crackdown on protests that have left hundreds dead and 20,000 arrested by Iranian security forces in recent months. Since last fall, this Middle Eastern country has been rocked by one of the biggest waves of unrest since the Islamic revolution of 1979. It was sparked by the death of a young woman named Mahsa Aminíová, who had previously been detained by the morality police – according to the media because her hair was insufficiently covered.

Sanctions newly apply to the Iranian Ministers of Culture and Education. Several judges, prosecutors, legislators and security officials also face them. All are subject to a travel ban to the Union and have their assets frozen on its territory. Two subjects connected with the security forces were also added to the list.

Since the introduction of sanctions against the Iranian regime in the fall, the Union has already expanded their scope four times, and now there are 205 people and 33 entities on the list. At the same time, the EU introduced sanctions for Iran's supplies of drones to Russia in October, but these are not affected by today's extension.

Since the September death of Mahsa Aminíová, Britain has introduced sanctions against more than 50 Iranian citizens, whom it accuses of participating in human rights violations. At the same time as the EU, it expanded its sanctions list already last month. Today, it added three judges “who imposed death sentences on protesters” and five members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Representatives of this military branch are also the target of EU and EU sanctions, according to a recent article in the British Financial Times (FT ) considered listing the Guards as a terrorist organization for supplying drones to Russia. However, the head of German diplomacy, Annalena Baerbock, said after today's meeting in Brussels that the Union has not yet found a way to legally support such a step. a terrorist organization,” Reuters quoted her as saying.