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Germany, EU partners at odds over bilateral military aid to Ukraine

In Europe
February 22, 2024

The German government has defended its stance in the negotiations over EU funds to supply of weapons and equipment to Ukraine, in the face of criticism from fellow EU member states.

The German government wants to ensure that it is not paying more than its fair share into the EU pot for arms for Ukraine, given that it also makes substantial bilateral donations to Kiev.

Berlin argues that such bilateral donations should be offset against its contributions to the enlarged fund.

Germany has already pledged more than €7 billion ($7.6 billion) in bilateral military aid to Ukraine for this year.

“The quick and un-bureaucratic delivery of military equipment is crucial for the country,” Germany’s EU Ambassador Michael Clauß told dpa after the latest round of talks on Wednesday, which failed to produce results.

The EU hopes to provide an additional €5 billion this year to enable EU member states to jointly supply weapons and equipment to Ukraine through the so-called European Peace Facility (EPF).

According to normal EU rules, Germany, as the largest economy, would have to stump up around a quarter of the additional funds, i.e. around €1.3 billion.

Clauß argued that bilateral aid, which is quicker to organize, should be recognized as if they were an equivalent contribution to the peace facility.

EU partners, on the other hand, have accused the German government of effectively blocking the EU funding by insisting on this payment model.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Monday explained that bilateral aid was not the best answer for many members states.

“Of course we can do things bilaterally, but it is much more difficult for a country like mine to support Ukraine bilaterally than in a group of 27,” he said.

Negotiations on funds at an EU level are stalled as Hungary has been blocking planned disbursements from the EPF.

The negotiations are further complicated by France’s demand that only weapons and ammunition produced in Europe should be financed with EU funds in future.

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