Ukraine and the EU: the pressing issues left over the country’s survival Ukraine

European leaders meeting in Brussels are expected to give Ukraine EU candidate status, but the historic decision threatens to overshadow more pressing issues about the country’s survival.

Military support

Since the Russian invasion began, Ukraine has been calling for weapons to defend its territory. EU leaders will call for swift work on “a further increase in military aid to Ukraine”, according to a draft Summit communiqué providing little detail on this important issue.

The EU has already agreed to finance 2 billion. EUR (£ 1.72 billion) in military aid to Ukraine, mainly for arms, a historic first time for the bloc. But the more pressing question may be how quickly European countries manage to deliver promised weapons. Following complaints of foot drag from Berlin, Ukraine earlier this week welcomed the first supply of heavy weapons from Germany with the arrival of Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers. Germany and the Netherlands together supply Ukraine 12 of the weapons systems, according to German diplomatic sources.

Financial support

Ukraine also needs cash as it faces economic ruin. The European Commission is working on a proposal for emergency funding of 9 billion. EUR to Ukraine. Details of the mix of grants and loans have not yet been decided. The Ukrainian government has said that the macro-financial assistance program of 9 billion. euro sounds good, but that it does not live up to what is needed. Kyiv demands about $ 5 billion. (£ 4.1bn) a month to continue, an adviser to the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said last month, urging the bloc to provide subsidies, rather than loans, that would increase indebtedness.


After months of smashing negotiations on the EU’s final round of sanctions against Russia, including a 90% oil embargo, the bloc is reluctant to discuss further restrictive measures on gas. Instead, EU leaders will focus on closing loopholes in existing sanctions. “Work will continue on sanctions, including to strengthen implementation and prevent circumvention,” the summit concluded.

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A handful of countries, such as Poland and the Baltic states, continue to argue for banning Russian gas. However, senior EU officials suggest that gas sanctions are not necessary as the bloc has already decided to phase out Russian fossil fuels. Relying on the EU’s latest energy strategy instead of proposing new sanctions avoids a harmful internal quarrel.


EU officials are increasingly concerned about what they see as the serious situation over Kaliningrad. Russia has threatened retaliation after Lithuania began controlling some goods transiting their territory en route to the Russian enclave. Control began when an EU ban on Russian steel exports recently came into force. The European Commission has said the controls are “focused, proportionate and effective”, but has promised further guidance.

Grain exports

The EU will again accuse Russia of “arming food in its war against Ukraine”, as it calls on Moscow to stop the blockade of Black Sea ports, especially Odesa. The EU is betting on the UN negotiating an agreement with Russia to open the ports. In the meantime, it is trying to help exporters find alternative rail and weather routes out of Ukraine. While grain supplies going through so-called “solidarity paths” have increased since April, shipping remains the fastest and cheapest option.

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