Accessibility links

Breaking News

EU Pledges Military Support for Ukraine, Considers New Russian Sanctions

A Ukrainian national guard serviceman stands atop a destroyed Russian tank in an area near the border with Russia, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Sept. 19, 2022.
A Ukrainian national guard serviceman stands atop a destroyed Russian tank in an area near the border with Russia, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Sept. 19, 2022.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU foreign ministers have agreed to continue and increase their military support for Ukraine and to study a new package of sanctions targeting Russian individuals and certain sectors of the Russian economy.

Borrell told reporters late Wednesday after convening a special ministerial meeting in New York that the details of the sanctions package still need to be determined by EU representatives, but that he is sure there will be unanimous support.

He said it was important for the ministers to meet and send a “powerful message” on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of his country’s military reserves, and that Putin is “trying to destroy Ukraine.”

Borrell said that in addition to “the immense suffering brought by the Russian aggression upon the Ukrainian people, Russia has chosen to further extend the cost of war also for their own Russian population.”

He said Putin’s apparent reference to Russia’s willingness to use nuclear weapons if necessary to protect itself represented “an irresponsible and cynical attempt to undermine our steadfast support to Ukraine.”

“These threats jeopardize in an unprecedented scale international peace and security,” Borrell said. “But they will not shake our determination. They will not shake our resolve, our unity to stand by Ukraine and our comprehensive support to Ukraine’s ability to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty as long as it takes.”

Putin said in a televised address Wednesday the mobilization of reserves, which followed Ukrainian gains in a counteroffensive in northeastern Ukraine, is necessary to protect Russia’s homeland and sovereignty.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the military would be calling up 300,000 reservists.

Putin said the West is trying to weaken and destroy Russia, and that his country will "use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people."

"In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line," he said. "This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them."

Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that Russia’s mobilization “is likely to be highly unpopular with parts of the Russian population” and that Putin is taking “considerable political risk in the hope of generating much needed combat power.”

Prisoner exchange

Russia and Ukraine carried out what appeared to be their biggest prisoner swap since the war began in late February.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday the deal included 215 Ukrainians freed from Russian captivity, most of them fighters who defended a steel plant during Russia’s siege of Mariupol.

Zelenskyy also said 10 foreign citizens were freed, five of them from the United Kingdom, two from the United States and others from Morocco, Sweden and Croatia.

Going back to Russia were 55 Russians and pro-Russia Ukrainians. The most prominent among the group was Viktor Medvedchuk, a Putin ally who had escaped house arrest days before Russia’s invasion only to be recaptured in April.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.