The 27 European Union member states have agreed to send another 500 million Euros in military aid for Ukraine, top EU Diplomat, Josep Borrell, announced on Wednesday in a statement.
Borrell said it was crucial the EU increased military support for Ukraine as Russia gears up for a new assault in the country’s east as “the next weeks will be decisive”.
It is the third package of military aid the EU has agreed to send to Ukraine to defend itself amid the Russian invasion, totalling 1.5 billion euros worth of military aid availed so far.
However, in February and March, the EU had announced two previous tranches of military aid, each worth 500 million euros, in a historic feat for the bloc to arm a non-EU member under attack.
– EU to help Ukrainian refugees convert cash –
The European Union countries decided Wednesday to offer Ukrainian refugees easier access to their currencies, allowing them to exchange hundreds of euros’ worth of their local hryvnia banknotes free of charge.
The European Council said member-state ambassadors had endorsed its recommendation on the conversion of hryvnia banknotes, with the initiative expected to be formally adopted and put into force next Tuesday.
Many of the 4.6 million Ukrainians who have poured out of their war-ravaged country since the Russian invasion had struggled to access the EU currency, with many European banks refusing to accept the hryvnia.
The war has deeply disrupted the Ukrainian economy, forcing the country’s central bank to limit the exchangeability of its hryvnia currency to preserve its reserves of dollars and euros.
To address the problem, Poland, the Czech Republic and other EU countries have already set up schemes to guarantee a level of exchange. The European Council recommended earlier this month that all member states do the same.
“The recommendation invites member states to set up national schemes that would allow for the conversion of hryvnias under similar conditions across the EU,” the council said in a statement.
The scheme would allow people displaced from Ukraine, including children, to exchange up to 10,000 hryvnias (310 euros, $340) for local currency in EU nations free of charge.
The exchanges should be made according to an official exchange rate published by Ukraine’s central bank, and the system should remain in place for at least three months, it said.
“The objective is to further support refugees who are having difficulty exchanging their banknotes into EU currencies,” it noted.
Also, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, proposed a provision of 40 euros per week for each person displaced from Ukraine and seeking shelter for them in the 27-nation bloc – for up to 13 weeks.
The EU is already offering Ukrainians temporary protective status for up to three years, allowing them to live and work within the bloc and to access housing, schooling and healthcare.