Josep Borrell feels more like a “defence minister”


Ukraine will succumb to the invading Russian forces “in a matter of days” without military support from Western countries, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said. “Unhappily, this is not the moment for diplomatic conversations about peace. It’s the moment of supporting militarily the war,” Borrell told Euronews at the State of the Union event hosted by the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence.

“If you want peace, push Russia to withdraw. Push Russia to stop the war. Don’t tell me to stop supporting Ukraine, because if I stop supporting Ukraine, certainly the war will finish soon,” he went on.

“We cannot just finish because (if we do) Ukraine is unable to defend itself and it has to surrender. And the Russian troops will be in the Polish border. Do you want this kind of ending the war? No.”

During the conversation, Borrell reflected on the transformational changes that have swept the European Union since the Kremlin decided to launch the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, upending international law, food supply chains and energy prices.

Although technically the bloc’s top diplomat, Borrell admitted he nowadays feels more like a “defence minister” because of the growing focus on supplying ammunition to Ukraine: the EU is rushing to fulfill its promise to deliver one million artillery shells over the next 12 months, which Kyiv urgently requires to mount its anticipated counteroffensive.

“I spend quite an important part of my time talking about arms and ammunition. I never thought that we were going to need to spend so much time thinking about how many shots of artillery we can provide,” Borrell said.

The European Commission proposed a €500-million plan to ramp up industrial production of ammunition, which is currently hampered by a series of entrenched bottlenecks and shortfalls.

“If we don’t support Ukraine, Ukraine will fall in a matter of days. So, yes, I would prefer to spend this money increasing the well-being of the people, hospitals, schools, cities, etc. But we don’t have a choice.”

Speaking more broadly about the shifting world order, Borrell expressed his personal desire for a better understanding between “the West and the rest,” a reference to countries that are outside the traditional group of liberal democracies and often refuse to embrace their political viewpoints.

“We still have a too much Eurocentric approach to the rest of the world.”


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