Sense of ‘urgency’ to bolster Ukraine’s air defences - Borrell

Meeting of EU ministers agrees to expand sanctions focusing on Iran’s ability to export drones and missiles

There is a “clear sense of urgency” within the European Union to help bolster Ukraine’s air defences in the face of ongoing Russian aerial bombardments, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has said.

Speaking following a meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, Mr Borrell said several EU countries had agreed “to make concrete contributions” to supply Ukraine with more equipment to assist its air defences. Concern has been growing about the pressure Ukraine is under in its war with Russia, in advance of a Russian offensive expected in the coming months.

Referring to appeals from Ukraine for EU countries to provide it with Patriot air defence systems, Mr Borrell said that was a decision for national governments. “I don’t have Patriots here in Brussels, the Patriots are in the capitals, it is up to them to take the decisions,” he said.

Mr Borrell said the meeting agreed to “enlarge and expand” sanctions on Iran, following its recent attacks on Israel. The sanctions are expected to focus on Iran’s ability to export drones and missiles by expanding restrictions on the sale of missiles to Russia, as well as attempting to disrupt supply of drones to Iran’s proxies in the Middle East.


Mr Borrell said there was still “no prospect” of a ceasefire in Israel’s war in Gaza, and humanitarian access of aid into Gaza was clearly still being “hindered”.

Speaking earlier before the meeting, Mr Borrell said EU ministers would discuss placing sanctions on violent Israel settlers clashing with Palestinians, as part of wider talks about the Gaza war. “We are asking Israel in every possible manner that it should not attack Rafah,” he said, adding that more than a million people would be “massacred”if there was an attack from Israel.

The senior EU official said there had been no movement from the European Commission on a request from Ireland and Spain to look at reviewing the bloc’s trade agreement with Israel, over humanitarian violations during the war in Gaza.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said Ireland had anticipated there would be “significant pushback” to the suggestion by other EU countries. “We are of the view that humanitarian law has been breached and been broken time and time again,” he said.

“There is an absolute imperative now that we have an immediate ceasefire, that we have the release of all hostages and that we get humanitarian aid flowing in Gaza,” he said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he would be supporting expanding sanctions on Iran, including against “key people” in the regime. “The fact of the matter is Iran has been supporting the Houthis, Hizbullah and Hamas and has been a malign influence in the region, from our perspective it needs to pull back,” he said.

Dutch foreign minister Hanke Bruins Slot said the US agreeing to release a long-delayed package of €57 billion in aid for Ukraine was vital. “We have to do everything we can, as the European Union, the United States, and other partners to give all the munitions, all the air defence which is necessary to support them. We don’t have another choice,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times