Wednesday, May 29, 2024

EU leaders agree on new sanctions against Iran and faster air defense aid to Ukraine

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French President Emmanuel Macron believes the EU and other Western allies have a duty to introduce more sanctions against Iran. Photo: AP / NTB

Of NTB | 18.04.2024 01:43:02

War and conflicts: Actually, this week’s summit was supposed to be devoted to discussing economic reforms to strengthen the EU’s competitiveness.

But the leaders of the EU countries were overtaken by the situation on the ground in Ukraine and the Middle East.

– Our duty is to extend the sanctions, French President Emmanuel Macron stated.

German Prime Minister Olaf Scholz and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also advocated more sanctions against Iran.

Early Thursday night, the meeting was over.

– The EU must implement further restrictive measures against Iran, related to drones and missiles, it is stated in the final declaration that was presented.

EU President Charles Michel told journalists after the end of the meeting that the EU has decided to introduce sanctions against Iran.

– The idea is to direct them towards the companies that are needed to make drones and rockets, said Michel.

He added that further details of the sanctions are not yet clear.

However, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has already set his people in motion by proposing new measures. Borrell has also stated that armed groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria that support Iran could be targeted for sanctions.

At the same time, there is great nervousness about what a possible response from Israel might be to the Iranian attack.

– We have to be extremely careful. Everything must be done to avoid more civilians dying, whether in Gaza, Israel or Iran, says De Croo.

– I fear that we will lose focus on Ukraine, says Lithuania’s Prime Minister Gitanas Nauseda. He points to the EU countries having increased imports of liquefied gas (LNG) and foodstuffs from Russia.

On Wednesday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi addressed the summit via video link.

Earlier on Wednesday, three EU leaders, Mette Frederiksen from Denmark, Mark Rutte from the Netherlands and Petr Fiala from the Czech Republic, had a meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

They promise to do what they can to find more air defense for Ukraine.

The President of the EU Parliament, Roberta Metsola, also has a clear message for the countries.

– We must ensure a much faster delivery of material to Ukraine, she states.

In the final statement from the meeting, the EU underlines “the need to quickly supply Ukraine with air defense aid and to accelerate and more intensively deliver all necessary military aid, including artillery ammunition and rockets”.

– It is high time that Europe wakes up when it comes to defense and security, she stated at a conference for the defense and security industry.

– The threat of war may not be immediate, but it is not impossible. We must be ready, says von der Leyen.

On the way to the summit on Wednesday, several pointed out that the EU must adopt new sanctions against Iran after the attack on Israel.

But expanding the sanctions regime is no easy task. The EU has already imposed sanctions on Iranian manufacturers of the drones that Russia uses against Ukraine.

The situation in Ukraine is also becoming increasingly precarious. The lack of anti-aircraft fire and ammunition is really starting to make itself felt.

At the same time, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is putting pressure on the member states to equip themselves.

(© NTB)

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