Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, NATO and the EU are deepening their cooperation and preparing to step up military support for Kyiv. Von der Leyen promised new sanctions against Belarus for its assistance to Russia in the war.
NATO and the European Union signed a joint declaration of cooperation on Tuesday, January 10. This is the first time such a pact has been signed against the backdrop of war on the European continent. “Putin wanted to take Ukraine in a few days and divide us. On both counts, he failed,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels after the declaration was signed.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has two unintended consequences: it has strengthened and brought the EU and NATO closer together, EU Council President Charles Michel said in turn. “Putin wanted less NATO, but he has achieved the opposite: now there will be more NATO and more EU,” Michel said, referring to the pending accession of Sweden and Finland to the alliance and the candidate status granted to Ukraine, Moldova and the Balkan countries.
The third EU-NATO cooperation declaration (the previous two were signed in 2016 and 2018) aims to broaden and strengthen their cooperation and bring the partnership to a new level, the leaders of these organizations explained. The most important areas of cooperation are critical infrastructure protection, increasing resistance to outside interference and data manipulation, combating cyber threats and terrorism, space exploration and new technologies, and mitigating the effects of the climate crisis on global security.
New EU sanctions against Belarus
At the same time, the leaders again named Russian aggression as the main and most direct threat to European security. “Moscow’s regime wants another Europe. It wants to control its neighbors and considers freedom and democracy a threat. This will have long-term consequences for our security, so we must continue to strengthen NATO, the NATO-EU partnership, and increase our support for Ukraine,” Jens Stoltenberg said.
The European Union will continue to help Ukraine as long as it takes, to put pressure on Russia with tough sanctions, and to extend punitive measures against Belarus and Iran for military support of Russia in the war against Ukraine, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promised. She also announced new sanctions against Minsk in response to Belarus’ role in the war, but gave no details.
EU and NATO in favor of supplying Ukraine with the latest military equipment
At a joint press conference, the EU and NATO leaders were asked whether they supported the EU countries that consider supplying Ukraine with Western-made combat tanks, such as Leopard 2 or Challenger 2, and whether they felt that this would increase the risk of escalation. None of the respondents spoke out against such supplies. “I think Ukraine should get all the military equipment it needs and can use to defend its homeland,” von der Leyen said. “And this is, of course, advanced air defense systems, as well as other types of the most modern military equipment.”
“I welcome the U.S., German, and French statements about supplying Ukraine with new types of armored vehicles, BMPs and other types of armored vehicles,” Stoltenberg said.
Charles Michel agreed with them, “I am very happy that since the beginning of the Russian invasion, EU countries have been able to supply more and more military equipment to Ukraine. The EU Council has repeatedly reiterated its call to increase military support to Ukraine. Michel recalled that since February 24, the European Union and its member states have already provided Kyiv with about 50 billion euros in aid.