EU foreign ministers to discuss Russia's war on Ukraine, set to approve new security document

EU Foreign Affairs Council to meet in Brussels on Monday.

EU foreign ministers to discuss Russia's war on Ukraine, set to approve new security document

The EU Foreign Affairs Council, where EU ministers will exchange views on Russia's war on Ukraine and Strategic Compass, will be held in Brussels on Monday. 

The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

EU foreign ministers will hold an informal exchange of views with Nicu Popescu, the top Moldovan diplomat.

The Council will also hold a joint session bringing together EU's foreign and defense ministers. During the session, the Council is due to approve the Strategic Compass document that will guide the EU’s action in the area of security and defense over the next decade.

The Strategic Compass will be accepted by the EU Foreign Relations Council on Monday. The document will be presented to leaders for approval at the EU Leaders' Summit on March 24-25.

The document that sets out new threats and challenges for the EU highlights concepts such as "strong partnership between NATO and the EU, political unity, harmony and complementing each other" after the Russia-Ukraine war.

It also includes developing an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5,000 troops, planned to be operational in 2025, to quickly react to different types of crises.

The first version of the Strategic Compass was tabled by the high representative last November.

Defense ministers will be joined via videoconference by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who will provide them with an analysis of the ongoing situation in Ukraine.  

No additional €500M aid to Ukraine

On Feb. 27, the EU announced to provide €500 million ($553.5 million) in arms and other aid to Ukraine but the demands of Ukraine have already exceeded them.

But there will be no decision on the additional €500 million in military aid at Monday's meeting as Germany will not sign such a decision without the approval of the parliament.

EU officials said new sanctions could be imposed on Russia in addition to the current four packages.

According to UN estimates, at least 847 civilians have been killed and around 1,400 injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on its western neighbor on Feb. 24.

The UN has said the real figures are likely to be much higher as conditions on the ground make verification difficult.

More than 3.38 million people have fled from Ukraine, while some 6.5 million are estimated to be internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.  

Situation in Mali

The Foreign Affairs Council will also exchange views on the situation in Mali as well as the future of the EU’s engagement in the country and the wider Sahel region.

The discussion will take place amid the political and security crisis in the country, heightened by the presence of Russian-affiliated mercenary forces -- Wagner Group -- and the risk of contagion in the region.

The council will discuss, in particular, the role of the EU Training Mission in Mali in the short term, and a possible adaptation of the Common Security and Defense Policy approach in the longer term, including the possibility to enhance defense support for Burkina Faso and Niger, and increased assistance to the coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea.

Since 2012, Mali has been battling violence orchestrated by militants in northern and central Mali targeting both soldiers and civilians.

Last month, European leaders announced a withdrawal of forces deployed in Mali as part of a counterterrorism mission, citing obstructions by Mali transitional authorities.

The soldiers were helping Mali and West Africa Sahel neighbors Burkina Faso and Niger tackle an insurgency linked to the al-Qaeda and Daesh/ISIS terror groups that have created havoc in the tri-border area.

Hüseyin Demir

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