An announcement made in the company of the Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Finance, Ludivine Dedonder, Hadja Lahbib, Caroline Gennez and Vincent Van Peteghem.
Half of the amount is devoted to new military aid. They relate to the delivery of armored vehicles, armaments and ammunition.
“The success of this new aid will lie in the speed with which the new equipment can be delivered to Ukraine. The aim of our country with this new package of armaments and ammunition is to meet the needs on the ground in a very short time,” said Ms. Dedonder.
Discussions are underway with the Ukrainian army on the subject.
Ms. Dedonder’s office did not want to give details on the equipment that will be delivered. Asked about the armored vehicles, he however indicated that they were not the Lynx wheeled armored vehicles whose delivery had been announced in March but combat vehicles from the Belgian defense industry (and not stocks of the defense). The delivery is also not part of the German, Dutch and Danish initiative to supply Leopard I tanks to Ukraine, which Belgium was considering joining and “which is on its way”.
Alongside military aid, 46 million are aimed at supporting the Ukrainian population and consolidating the Belgian diplomatic presence. Humanitarian aid will be increased to the tune of 24 million which will, in coordination with the United Nations, be allocated in major cities and war zones to basic needs such as education, health and food security. Eight million will go to the reconstruction of Ukraine via funds set up by the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.
Investments are planned for the Belgian diplomatic network in Ukraine and in the region. A position will be opened in Moldova, a candidate for EU membership, part of whose territory is in the hands of pro-Russian separatists and who fears suffering the same fate as its Ukrainian neighbour.
“In the current context, it is necessary to show more explicit support for Moldova, particularly with regard to the European accession process and the reforms that accompany it”, underlined Mrs. Lahbib.
Another will be opened in the Caucasus, in Armenia, which is in conflict with Azerbaijan for control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“Belgium’s increased diplomatic attention in a country and a region which has a strong Russian influence is part of the European neighborhood policy with regard to the countries to the east of the EU and bears witness to the concern to preserve security and stability in this strategically important region,” added the Minister.
The securing of Ukrainian energy infrastructure, in particular nuclear power plants, “will be the subject of particular attention”.
The support fund for war victims of the International Criminal Court will also benefit from the means announced. “We are particularly invested in supporting victims of war, women and girls who have been victims of sexual assault and the thousands of children deported to Russia. An investigation must be carried out as soon as possible to shed full light on these war crimes and bring the culprits to justice,” explained Ms. Lahbib.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced the adoption of a new set of measures during a trip to the Netherlands where he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
More than a year after the start of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian army is preparing a counter-offensive. On Thursday, the Ukrainian president indicated in an interview with the BBC that his country still needed a little time.
“For the war to end, the counter-offensive planned by Ukraine must be a success. The additional aid that Belgium is providing today will contribute to this”, underlined Mr. De Croo.
The financial means come from the tax revenues collected on the Russian financial assets frozen in Belgium. At the end of March, when it had completed its budgetary adjustment, the government announced that it would use the interest from Russian assets frozen in Belgium in order to directly support Ukraine but also for income for the integration of Ukrainians in Belgium. Some 625 million were then mentioned.
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