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European Union Shuts Airspace to Russian Airlines, Curbs Media; Decides To Fund Supply of Weapons To Ukraine

Von der Leyen further added that the EU would for the first time finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to Ukraine.

Updated: February 28, 2022 1:26 AM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Victor Dasgupta

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Ukraine-Russia Conflict: The European Union on Sunday said that it will shut EU airspace to Russian aircraft, seek to ban Russian state-owned media in the bloc and target Russian ally Belarus with sanctions. “We are shutting down the EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft including the private jets of oligarchs. Second, we will ban the Kremlin’s media machine in the EU,” President EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen said.

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“EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment to a country under attack. We are also strengthening our sanctions against the Kremlin. We will target the other aggressor in this war, Lukashenko’s regime, with a new package of sanctions,” she added.

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The Commission’s plans followed the announcement earlier in the day that Germany was committing 100 billion euros ($113 billion) to a special armed forces fund and would keep its defense spending above 2% of GDP from now on. The shift underscored how Russia’s war on Ukraine was rewriting Europe’s post-World War II security and defense policy in ways that were unthinkable only a few weeks ago.

Anti-war protesters, meanwhile, took to the streets in Berlin, Rome, Prague, Istanbul and other cities — even Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg and in a dozen Belarusian cities — to demand an end to the war, the largest ground offensive on the continent since WWII.

Human rights advocates reported that more than 170 people had been arrested in the Belarusian protests, even as the country’s authoritarian leader offered the country’s territory to his ally Russia. In Minsk, a large pile of flowers kept growing at the building of Ukraine’s embassy.

Tens of thousands of people massed Sunday in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, with some carrying posters with slogans such as “Hands off Ukraine,” “Tanks to Windmills” and “Putin, go to therapy and leave Ukraine and the world in peace.”

The EU’s plan to fund weapons purchases was unprecedented and would use millions of euros to help buy air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, ammunition and other military equipment to Ukraine’s armed forces. It would also supply things like fuel, protective gear, helmets and first aid kits.

The system might also use EU money to reimburse EU countries that have already sent lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine this year, giving an incentive for those countries to invest more in such assistance.

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