EU to provide Ukraine with €18bn to rebuild infrastructure

European leaders criticise 'atrocious and deliberate' Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian sites

French President Emmanuel Macron announced additional measures to help rebuild Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. Bloomberg
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French President Emmanuel Macron and European commission president Ursula Von Der Leyen on Friday set out a framework of support and additional measures to help rebuild Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure in the face of Russian attacks.

“We must organise ourselves collectively to respond to Ukraine’s immediate needs even more during the winter period,” said Mr Macron, speaking on the second day of a summit of EU leaders.

“We will take in the coming days additional measures to help Ukraine’s civilian resistance,” he said. “Russia’s strategy to methodically destroy its resistance capacities and its essential winter civilian infrastructure is clear,” he added.

He told reporters that it was “absolutely essential” to help Ukrainians heat themselves this winter.

Russian forces have aimed at Ukraine's critical energy infrastructures with missiles and drones since early October, causing damage to power installaitons in its central and northern regions on Monday.

Mr Macron also said that France will train 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers on French soil as part of a European military assistance mission that was announced on Monday. It aims to train in total 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers and purchase additional military equipment.

EU heads of state devoted their last day of meetings in Brussels to international affairs and to supporting to Ukraine.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy twice attended meetings remotely, said Mr Macron.

Mr Zelenskyy asked the EU for air and missile defence systems, as well as "new powerful" sanctions on Russia ― and on Iran for supplying drones for use in Moscow's war.

The bloc on Thursday imposed limited sanctions on Iran over its transfer of the drones.

Ms Von Der Leyen also addressed recent Russian attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure which she described as “atrocious and deliberate”, having previously said the actions amounted to war crimes.

The EU’s commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic was in Ukraine this week to assess the damage.

Restoring water and heating

“We are in very close contact with the Ukrainian authorities to look at how we can restore as best and as much as possible electricity, water supply, and other essential services like for example heating” said Ms Von Der Leyen.

The European Commission on Thursday boosted humanitarian aid to Ukraine by €175 million ($172 million) and announced the creation of an emergency winter shelter programme.

Ms Von Der Leyen on Friday said that it included emergency shelters in the Butcha and Kharkiv regions.

She also said that the EU would donate €1.5bn a month to Ukraine. She told reporters that Ukraine asked in total for €3bn to €4bn a month from the US, the EU and financial institutions “to have enough resources for the basics.”

The EU’s finance ministers will be tasked with developing “the appropriate mechanisms”, said Ms Von Der Leyen. But it was important for Europe to give on Friday a signal that it would support Ukraine with a reliable flow of income, she added.

“This would give a figure of €18bn for the next year, an amount that Ukraine can count on,” she told reporters.

The EU has so far given Ukraine €19bn this year.

Further announcements of aid to Ukraine are expected during an international meeting in Berlin on Tuesday. It will be co-hosted by Ms Von Der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Frozen assets

“The reconstruction process and massive investments that are necessary should be aligned with the needs for reform in order to really pave the path to [Ukraine’s candidacy to] EU membership,” said Ms Von Der Leyen.

The summit's chairman, European Council president Charles Michel, said the EU was looking at using Russian assets frozen under sanctions against Moscow towards rebuilding Ukraine.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that amounted to about €300bn, though Berlin and others have given warnings that seizing the assets might be illegal.

Ms Kallas also sided with Lithuania in pushing for a special international tribunal to be set up to judge possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, something the Netherlands has voiced caution about.

She told reporters that her country had proposed a ninth round of sanctions on Russia. “But it is of course becoming more and more difficult because we don’t have so many tools in our toolbox anymore,” she said.

“That’s why I say we should focus on a legal response,” she added, though she recognised that there were “hesitations from different countries.”

Updated: October 22, 2022, 6:04 AM