The war in Ukraine enters its seventh month. Despite the brutal Russian invasion, the Ukrainian army continues to resist and try to recapture areas under Moscow's control. In order to support Kiev in the tough fight and in keeping with its commitment to the defence of the country, the European Union has signed a new agreement with Ukraine worth 500 million euros for education, agriculture and housing.
The European Commission announced the aid package at a meeting in Brussels of the EU-Ukraine Association Council chaired by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi.
"The EU package will help ensure housing and education for IDPs and returnees and support Ukraine's agricultural sector," said European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer, according to AFP.
Also, according to Ukrinform, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov and European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton signed an agreement to bring Ukraine into the Digital Europe Programme (2021-2017), a project that aims to boost the digital transformation of the European economy, industries and societies.
This new agreement was signed shortly after Russian gas giant Gazprom announced the suspension of gas supplies to Europe following a leak. In this sense, Kiev has presented itself as a key energy partner for the continent. "Ukraine has the largest underground deposits for storing gas and could become Europe's gas vault," Shmygal wrote on his Telegram account, as reported by AFP. "After obtaining the status of a candidate country, the government aims to accelerate integration into the EU energy market," he added.
In this regard, Shmygal called for "a total energy embargo against Russia", one of Ukraine's top priorities. The prime minister also met with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, whom he urged to fulfil her commitments regarding "financial aid, but also military and logistical support", as the politician told Reuters. Despite Brussels' strong commitment in these areas, Borrell admitted to the Associated Press that "the EU's arms stocks are running low".
Metsola also indicated that the conversation with Shmyhal focused on the effects of sanctions against Russia, as well as whether they should be extended to the digital economy, European companies in Russia or the entry of Russian citizens into the bloc. "The heads of political groups confirmed their unanimous support for Ukraine, including its EU candidacy," he added.