Sweden takes over the EU Council Presidency: A clear goal

Ukraine must win the war, says Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. The EU is divided on some issues with Kyiv.

Kristersson speaks in front of the EU emblem with yellow stars

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Strasbourg on Tuesday Photo: Jean-Francois Badias/ap

BRUSSELS taz | The European Union wants to support a “victory” for Ukraine against Russia. This said Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Tuesday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Until the end of June, Sweden will hold the rotating presidency of the Council every six months and will also determine the priorities of EU policy.

A quick peace is not one of the goals that the new EU Presidency is striving for. Nor did Kristersson speak of negotiations with Russia or a ceasefire. “We must do everything in our power to ensure Ukraine wins,” he said. This is “essential” for Europe and the whole world.

Kristersson left open what is meant by victory. Opinions on this differ widely in the EU. While Poland and the Balts are striving for the liberation of the entire Ukrainian state, including Crimea, Germany and France are holding back. Russia must not win, they say cautiously in Berlin and Paris.

A common strategy for all 27 EU countries is missing, as is the Dispute over arms deliveries and German Leopard tanks. Nothing is likely to change under the Swedish EU Presidency. The important issues are not discussed in the EU, but in NATO or in the so-called Ramstein format under the leadership of the USA. The next meeting is on Friday – in Ramstein.

More money for Ukraine

For Ukraine to hold its ground, the country needs “continued economic, political, humanitarian and military” assistance, Kristersson said. The reconstruction of the country requires a kind of Marshall Plan like after the Second World War, he emphasized. Russian funds frozen in the EU would also have to be used for this.

However, Kristersson failed to make any concrete proposals here either. So far, the EU countries have frozen billions of assets belonging to oligarchs and the Russian central bank. But so far there is no legal basis for confiscation and payment to Ukraine. The EU Commission now wants to work on it.

The Brussels authority also announced a new cash injection for Ukraine. The EU Commission announced that an aid loan of 3 billion euros would be paid out on Tuesday. By the end of the year, 18 billion euros are to flow to finance ongoing government tasks in Kyiv. This includes wages and pensions.

The financial aid is subject to conditions. The main issues are the rule of law and the fight against corruption. However, the implementation of these conditions will only be reviewed in the autumn. Then the Commission presents its first so-called progress report, in which it evaluates reforms with a view to the planned EU accession.

Von der Leyen emphasizes solidarity

Ukraine is considered one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. There is also constant criticism of the rule of law and democracy. Most recently, President Volodymyr Zelensky had revoked the citizenship of four former MPs. They are accused of high treason, it was said in Kyiv. In addition, Zelensky blacklisted 198 Russian artists.

The EU Commission has not yet commented on these events. Authorities chief Ursula von der Leyen preferred to emphasize their solidarity. “Our unwavering support for Ukraine will not falter, from helping restore electricity, heat and water supplies to reconstruction,” von der Leyen said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The German CDU politician emphasized that the EU was ready to help “as long as necessary”. It didn’t sound like a quick victory – more like a long war.

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