Brussels, 21 March 2022
Russian military aggression against Ukraine
Ministers had a discussion on the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. So far 13 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, and over 3.3 million have fled the country.
Ministers stood united in their support for Ukraine. They agreed to continue to contain and isolate Russia diplomatically and on the international stage, and call out its war crimes, and violations of international humanitarian law.
The EU will continue to support Ukraine economically, financially, and to support the Ukrainian armed forces. In this regard, ministers reached a political agreement on additional 500 million euros to be mobilised under the European Peace Facility.
What is happening in Ukraine is massive war crime committed by the Russian Armed Forces against Ukrainian people. This cannot go unanswered. That is why, we welcome the Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council. We also welcome the investigation by the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor, and we recall the order by the International Court of Justice for Russia to stop the invasion of Ukraine. – Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The EU stands ready to further strengthen its restrictive measures if the situation so requires, and engage with international partners.
During the discussion, ministers were joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Moldova Nicu Popescu.
Moldova is one of the countries most affected and by the Russian aggression, with 13% of the children in the country being Ukrainian refugees, and one of the most threatened. The EU takes Moldova’s concerns and needs seriously, and ministers stressed their commitment to collectively step up the EU support to the country.
The Council had and exchange of views about the situation in Mali. Not only the transition authorities in Mali called for the withdrawal of the Barkhane and Takuba forces from the country, but also decided to cooperate with the Russian-affiliated mercenary forces of the Wagner Group, who are notorious for atrocities wherever they have operated.
The Council confirmed that the EU military training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) cannot become involved in any way in activities that could undermine the reputation of the EU.
For this reason the High Representative asked in writing for guarantees, that those units that are trained by the EU would not work or cooperate with the Wagner Group. The EU is awaiting a response from the Malian authorities and, in case those guarantees were not granted, the EU would have no choice but to reconsider its presence in Mali.
In the meantime the EU continues to provide direct financial aid to the population in Mali and the Sahel more broadly, and will extend its support to Burkina Faso and Niger.
The Council approved conclusions on Cameroon.
Foreign affairs and defence
EU foreign affairs and defence ministers sitting in a joint session approved the Strategic Compass, an ambitious plan of action for strengthening the EU’s security and defence policy by 2030.
When I presented the Compass last November, I said Europe is in danger. Now, it is blatantly obvious. This unprovoked and unjustified invasion marks a ‘tectonic shift’. Our reaction to the war has demonstrated that we, as the EU, can act firmly and quickly when we are united. Today’s adoption of the Compass confirms this.
Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The Strategic Compass provides a shared assessment of the strategic environment in which the EU is operating and of the threats and challenges the Union faces. For the first time ever, the document makes concrete and actionable proposals, with a very precise timetable for implementation, in order to improve the EU’s ability to act decisively in crises and to defend its security and its citizens.
The Compass also clearly stresses the importance of the transatlantic relation and of NATO’s role in collective defence. A stronger and more capable EU in the field of security and defence will help strengthen transatlantic security and NATO.
The Strategic Compass is now expected to be endorsed by the European Council on 24-25 March 2022.
EU defence ministers discussed defence-related questions regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
- Meeting n°3859
- 21 March 2022
- Background brief
- Provisional agenda
- Provisional list of A items, non-legislative activities
- List of A items, non-legislative activities, addition 1