Aid to Ukraine remains vital as the Russian military gears up for a new offensive as its invasion nears the one-year mark, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Friday.
Speaking at a meeting of EU heads of state and government which convened in Brussels Thursday and Friday, the prime minister said: "Russia is preparing for a new major offensive against Ukraine, and our aid to Ukraine must be sufficient to counter it, because Russia is not running low on weapons or ammunition yet."
"Furthermore, our military support must help Ukraine push Russian soldiers out from its territory. Our words must turn into actions. All partners can and must do more to support Ukraine," she went on, according to a government office press release.
"We can also begin to quickly increase the production capacity of the European defense industry. Similar to the procurement of Covid vaccines, we could organize joint procurements of ammunition, which the member states would finance, the European Commission would help carry out, and the ammunition could be handed over directly to Ukraine," the premier added.
Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, visiting the EU right after a trip to the U.K. and calling for EU membership for Ukraine, also participated in the discussion on Ukraine, who stressed the importance of a united EU action in stopping Russian aggression. "Our united action will help Ukraine win," he said.
Our goal is to help push #Russia out of Ukraine, ensure accountability for crime of aggression and end Russia's imperialist delusions.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) February 9, 2023
We need to take actions that match this goal. We need to show leadership that matches the courage of @ZelenskyyUa and the people of #Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/IHZGwH4BDk
The Estonian prime minister called for expedited processes for setting up a special international court, which would investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Kallas said the EU plays a leading role here, as it does also in finding a solution to the issue of frozen Russian assets and what to do with the.
The 27 EU member states must continue to cooperate with the European Commission on this.
Also on the table was the protection of the EU's external border and illegal migration which, again, the union must be more proactive in, Kallas said. "We must deal with the causes of illegal migration, not the consequences, including preventing the exploitation of migration for political purposes, as we saw in the case of Belarus in 2021."
Bolstering the EU's economic competitiveness is also an important theme, the Estonian prime minister went on, and addressed the issue at the meeting.
"The fundamentals of the single market and their protection must not be forgotten even when distributing subsidies in a crisis situation,"Kallas said, adding that it is the free market and not subsidies, state aid and loans, which must address the root cause.
To that end, the assembled heads of state and government opted to simplify the internal market's rules and alter the aid regulations to aid in boosting industrial competitiveness in particular.
The existing funding schemes used in the creation of green technology will also be altered following a decision at the meeting, a topic to be revisited at the next European Council meeting in March.
Editor: Andrew Whyte