Janša urges focus on military assistance to Ukraine

Brussels – Janez Janša, the outgoing prime minister, urged the EU and the west to focus on military assistance to Ukraine rather than on sanctions as he arrived for the second day of meetings at the EU summit on Tuesday.

Sanctions are not the key issue, he said, adding that the EU needed to step up military assistance to Ukraine given the Russian army’s rapid advances in Donbas.

Unless the EU and the West want to talk about millions of new refugees in a month, the focus must be on military assistance, he said.

If Russia wins new territory in east Ukraine, its appetites will grow, as will political tensions in Ukraine. This will erode the west’s credibility and ultimately affect food and energy security.

Turning to the embargo on oil imports from Russia that EU leaders reached last night, he said the move should not have a significant impact on energy prices in Slovenia.

“Commercial companies that supply oil to Slovenia have already provided assurances that this oil is not sourced in Russia. If that is true, there should be no complications, nor any significant impact on energy prices,” he said.

Even more important than the quantity of oil that the EU buys from Russia – the deal involves cutting imports from Russia by 90% by the end of the year – is prices, according to Janša.

If prices are very high, Russia can sell half as much oil as it does now and still have enough money to finance the war in Ukraine.

Janša is hopeful the leaders will find specific solutions on how to affect prices. Europe has some instruments at its disposal, but it is still “victim to the green transition paradigm” regardless of how much it costs.

“These priorities need to be aligned now and if the EU finds the right approach, energy prices will stabilise,” he said.

The EU leaders also discussed cooperation in defence and security, and called on the EU Council to immediately examine measures for coordinated replenishment of military equipment stocks, including by means of joint procurement.

The European Commission has proposed the option that at least three countries should be enabled to procure equipment together. A financial instrument of EUR 500 million over two years is envisaged for this purpose.

Janša labelled the measure as good, noting that Slovenia had proposed it last October. The formal frameworks are set, but there is still a lot of work to be done as these frameworks need to be coordinated with the common market rules, he added.