Toledo, 31 August 2023 (TDI): EU Defense Ministers confirmed their unwavering commitment to providing long-term military aid to Ukraine. They also tackled Sahel security concerns at an informal ministerial meeting in Toledo.

The meeting was chaired by Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Demonstrating solidarity, the Ministers stood firmly behind Ukraine’s defense against Russian military aggression. Their discussions focused on advancing substantial and enduring military assistance.

“Our support must be unwavering to fortify Ukraine’s counteroffensive,” emphasized Josep Borrell, alongside acting Minister of Defense of Spain, Margarita Robles.

The Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov, via videoconference, provided insights into the situation on the ground, further enriching the discussions.

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Moreover, the EU unveiled a strategic plan to establish an assistance fund for Ukraine, a financial boost of up to 5 billion euros annually for 2024-2027.

This fund, integrated into the European Peace Support Fund, aims to ensure enduring assistance. “We’re working to secure an agreement by year-end,” Borrell stated.

Furthermore, significant strides were noted in training Ukrainian military personnel. Presently, 25,000 soldiers have undergone training, and the target of 30,000 by year-end will likely surpass the current by late October.

Borrell recommended elevating the target to 40,000 trained soldiers. Under the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council, maintaining cohesive support for Ukraine is paramount.

Ammunition Support and Sahel Concerns

Delivering ammunition to Ukraine was on the agenda, with negotiations in progress to bolster the supply. Simultaneously, the Ministers expressed alignment with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the coup in Niger.

Furthermore, Borrell emphasized the importance of an African solution to address the situation in the fragile Sahel region.

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Additionally, EU Ministers debated the possibility of an “autonomous sanctions regime” against coup plotters. This proactive initiative will undergo further exploration by EU foreign ministers in an upcoming informal meeting.

Also, an assessment of the evolving Niger situation remains on the agenda, alongside discussions surrounding Spain’s active role in the EUTM-Mali mission for regional stability.