'We could be faster' with support for Ukraine, MEPs say, as war approaches one-year mark

From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels, Feb. 9, 2023.
From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel in Brussels, Feb. 9, 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
By Alice TideyEfi Koutsokosta
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MEPs by and large approve of what the bloc has done so far to support Ukraine but they also call for the EU to be faster to deliver weapons and agree on sanctions.

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Western allies including the European Union have this month reaffirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine as Russia's war in the country nears the one-year mark.

But many, including EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, have also conceded that more could have been done and still needs to be done to ensure Ukraine can defend itself and eventually win the war.

MEPs largely agree.

Like the vast majority of the European population, EU lawmakers approve of what the bloc has done so far. The EU has so far spent €67 billion in military, humanitarian and macro-financial assistance and rolled out nine packages of sanctions against Russia to cripple its economy and ability to finance and wage war. 

For lawmakers, the unity displayed by the 27 EU countries is particularly noteworthy. 

"One of the things I think we did well as Europeans was exactly supporting the Ukrainians for the war, not just even militarily, but all the economic support to the country and the support to the millions of refugees that came to Europe. We managed to stand united," Portuguese MEP Pedro Marques (S&D) told Euronews.

Budget and foreign affairs decisions at the EU level require unanimity which means every round of sanctions had to be approved by all 27 countries as well as the €18 billion macro-financial support package.

But speed in decision-making is one of the areas flagged by MEPs as lacking.

"We could be faster, especially when we speak about the weapons, what Ukraine needs today, mostly weapons, weapons and weapons to win this war," Lithuanian EPP MEP Rasa Juknevičienė told Euronews.

"I think some bigger countries, they are afraid to provide all necessary weapons because they are afraid that Ukrainians will defeat Putin in the way which they are afraid to do this. And I think that is the biggest mistake," she added.

Her comments were likely a reference to Germany which hesitated for weeks on whether to supply Ukraine with heavy battle tanks, and equally crucially, whether to allow the re-export of German-made tanks by other European countries.

Marques echoed this, also when it comes to sanctions and to measures shielding Europeans from the economic impact of the war. 

"I would have liked to see the European Union acting more rapidly on matters like the capping of the prices of oil or gas, the changing of the electricity market and all those measures that we wanted to have seen earlier that would have stopped sooner the money flowing to Putin's regime and at the same time would have stopped sooner as well the suffering for the European people that came from all the rise of the prices of energy," he said.

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