The European Union has broken several taboos with its responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, is willing to break another. Next week he is going to propose to the community defense ministers to send an “important mission” to train Ukrainian soldiers. “I don’t understand why we train the Mozambican army and not the Ukrainian one”, reflected Borrell, at a conference in Santander this Monday, warning at the same time that the open war in Eastern Europe “is not a little war”. This fight, the Spanish politician has argued, “requires an effort not only in material supplies, but also in training and helping to organize the army.”
Borrell’s plans, if they go ahead, would not be developed on Ukrainian soil, but in a neighboring country, as he himself has clarified. If this new step materializes, it is likely to be viewed with hostility by Russia, which is increasingly responding to sanctions and European aid to kyiv by cutting off gas supplies to EU countries.
Shortly after the invasion began, six months after this Wednesday, several EU and NATO countries began sending weapons to Ukraine. They increased the flow with respect to what they had been doing since the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and the separatist war in the Donbas region, something that was also accompanied by training, especially by the Atlantic Alliance. The European Commission even proposed —and was finally approved— a financing line that would cover the sending of war material to kyiv by the Member States. In principle it was 500 million, but the game has been growing and there are already 2,500 million. The shipment of war material to Ukraine has been one of the keys for the invaded country to resist Russia.
“They asked for 200 tanks and they have 237. We have sent more anti-tank systems than there are tanks in the world,” General Mark A. Miller, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared on a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels last June. From the very beginning, it has been the United States that has been sending the most weapons. Without going any further, at the end of last week he announced a new package valued at 775 million dollars. But so have many other countries, which are coordinated under the umbrella of the so-called Ukraine Defense Contact Groupwhich includes all the members of the Atlantic Alliance plus others that support Ukraine militarily in the conflict, a total of fifty.
However, in order for Ukrainian soldiers to use many of the weapons issued to them, they first need to go through a period of training. Proposals such as that of the High Representative for Foreign Policy could be framed there, but also other initiatives such as the one that took place in Copenhagen on August 11. Several countries that support kyiv met in the Danish capital and there Ben Wallace, British Defense Minister, announced that his country was going to send more weapons and that it was expanding the training program for Ukrainian soldiers that it has underway and for which it already 2,300 soldiers have passed. “Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Latvia have announced that they will join the initiative; The Netherlands previously announced it,” Wallace said.
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With this initiative, launched in the course Quo Vadis Europe, from the Menéndez Pelayo International University, the head of European diplomacy once again takes a risky step in the response to Russia, as he already did with that line of financing that opened up in March. Instead, Borrell has urged caution in the face of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s demand — backed by Estonia, Finland and other Baltic countries — to ban entry visas to the Schengen zone for all Russian citizens. “It is not a good idea”, he has criticized, to then qualify: “We have to be more select”. What the Spanish politician has come to demand is that those linked to the regime be barred from entering — “no water for the oligarchs” — but the door be left open for those who flee. “There are many Russians who want to leave,” he explained.
Borrell thus aligns himself with the German chancellor, who already came out several days ago to reject the measure. The debate on this new sanction began to heat up in the first half of the month as a result of an article published by Zelensky in an American newspaper. As in the case of the “powerful mission” of training, this point will be on the agenda for the informal meetings of defense and foreign ministers next week in Prague. This was announced by the person in charge of the diplomacy of the Czech Republic, the country that presides over the Council of the EU this semester, which implies that it has a decisive position in preparing the content of the meetings and in the search for agreements between the partners during this period.
The high representative has also referred to another of the issues that most concern him these days: the nuclear agreement with Iran. “The world would be a much safer place if we could make this deal work again,” Borrell said. Since Monday night of last week, the European leader has been awaiting the assessment made by the United States on the response that Iran gave to the latest proposal made to revitalize the pact, signed in 2015 and from which it left unilaterally. the Administration of Republican Donald Trump. In these negotiations, which have been going on for 16 months, European diplomacy has played the role of coordinator by delegation from the United Nations.
The Iranian response is “reasonable”, according to the head of community diplomacy, who has shown some sign of impatience by declaring that the US response should have already arrived. “It is possible that it will be during this week”, he has settled it.