EU laughing stock after calling for Defence Union while still funding Putin

Russia: Vladimir Putin 'fears China' says Lord Dannatt

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President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is sparking calls for a military alliance to guard against future aggression. Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a big supporter of the formation of a European Army, renewed his call for a “real” defence union. Verhofstadt said that the break-up of alliances between states ensured weakness in the face of military strongmen.

He said: “When will we learn? Military spending as such won’t make any difference – we are already spending 4x as much as the Russians

“Fragmentation in procurement, equipment & leadership keeps us weak. Only a real & operational European Defence Union can change that!”

But the comments sparked the fury of former UK MEP Lance Forman who stressed the issue with Russia’s power in Europe relies on the EU’s dependency on Russian oil and gas.

He said: “Nonsense. If you weren’t buying Putin’s oil and gas, he would never have been able to do this.

“The rush to renewables, sponsored and pushed by the EU lies at the core of the problem. Typical EU incompetence and corruption.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday, March 18, that he had spoken with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell about a further package of sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

“We discussed the preparation of the 5th EU sanctions package on Russia. Pressure will keep mounting as long as it is needed to stop Russian barbarism. We also discussed protection and help for Ukrainians who fled from Russian bombs to the EU,” he said on Twitter.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Friday sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia in reaction to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine were starting to have a “real impact”.

“We hope these sanctions will force (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to change his plans,” Attal told BFM TV.

Earlier this week, EU member states agreed on a fourth package of sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

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But despite battleground setbacks and punitive sanctions by the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little sign of relenting.

His government says it is counting on China to help Russia withstand blows to its economy.

The United States, which this week announced $800 million in new military aid to Kyiv, is concerned that Beijing is “considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment to use in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The war has settled into a grinding pattern of sieges of cities, with Ukrainian officials reporting Russian attacks on schools, hospitals and cultural facilities.

The United Nations human rights office in Geneva said it had recorded 2,032 civilian casualties so far in Ukraine – 780 killed and 1,252 injured.

Some 3.2 million civilians, mostly women and children, have now fled to neighbouring countries, the United Nations said.

A Ukrainian official said some 3,810 people were evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, a far smaller number than Wednesday.

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A fourth straight day of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators took place by videolink, but the Kremlin said an agreement had yet to be reached.

“Our delegation is putting in colossal effort,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Our delegation… is ready to work around the clock – but unfortunately we don’t see such zeal from the Ukrainian side.”

Moscow has previously said it was close to agreeing to a formula that would keep Ukraine neutral, one of its demands.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the negotiations were complicated. “The positions of the parties are different. For us, fundamental issues are inviolable,” he said.

Ukraine has said it is willing to negotiate an end to the war but will not surrender or accept Russian ultimatums. It is sticking to its core position that it retain sovereignty over areas occupied since 2014 by Russian and pro-Russian forces.

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