EU says it’s up to Ukraine to decide when war is over

European countries want to train 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: 'Russia must withdraw all its troops and armed formations from the territory of Ukraine.' AP
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The EU’s foreign affairs chief has pledged continuing supporting for Ukraine until it decides the war with Russia has been won, as Ukrainian officials rejected any compromise of their country's territorial independence.

Josep Borrell urged EU defence ministers, expected to review their military support for Ukraine during a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, to replenish their respective military inventories and avoid competition in arms deliveries to Kyiv.

“It’s up to the Ukrainians to decide what [victory] means to them,” he told a press conference on Monday. “How can I tell Ukrainians what they have to do? The only thing I can tell them is: we will support you.”

In a virtual address to G20 leaders hours later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: "Ukraine should not be offered to make compromises with its conscience, sovereignty, territory and independence.

"Russia must withdraw all its troops and armed formations from the territory of Ukraine," said Mr Zelenskyy, who previously described Moscow’s recent withdrawal from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as the "beginning of the end of the war".

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba on Monday rejected suggestions of peace talks with Russia.

“Signals from Russia that they are open for talks are nothing else but a smokescreen for its continued aggression,” said Mr Kuleba during a briefing via videoconference with his EU counterparts, according to a Ukrainian Foreign Ministry transcript.

European officials have hailed the recapture of Kherson as a victory for the Ukrainian army but Mr Borrell said Russia was continuing to target civilians and civilian infrastructure, claims that Moscow rejects.

Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenergo said Russia had destroyed key energy infrastructure before its retreat.

The 27 EU members have to date provided €8bn ($8.32bn) in military support for Ukraine, said Mr Borrell, responding to accusations that Brussels was contributing less than the US.

“It’s about 45 per cent of the effort done by the US” he said on Tuesday. "It’s not negligible."

Estonia’s Foreign Affairs Minister on Monday described the West’s backing for Ukraine as “not enough.”

Brussels “has to fulfil the promises it has given and it has to be prepared to give additional further help to Ukraine,” he told reporters.

The bloc last month agreed on a military assistance mission to Ukraine to train at least 15,000 soldiers, which was expected to start on Tuesday.

"In less than three months, this mission will be operational," said Mr Borrell. "This is a record time for Europeans."

The training will take place in several of the bloc’s member states. French President Emmanuel Macron previously said his country would train 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers on French soil. Mr Borrell said Spain would also participate.

Cyprus Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides and his Latvian counterpart Artis Pabriks on Tuesday said that their countries would offer Ukraine demining training.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Mr Pabriks said: "We can see Russians are leaving behind themselves a barbaric mess because the infrastructure is destroyed, the country is mined and somebody has to help to clean it up as soon as possible."

Updated: November 15, 2022, 10:34 AM