EU announces aid for refugees, companies, economies affected by Ukraine war

The European Union on Wednesday announced a slew of measures to aid Ukraine, including freeing up billions of dollars to support member states hosting Ukrainian refugees. Photo by Dumitru Doru/EPA-EFE
The European Union on Wednesday announced a slew of measures to aid Ukraine, including freeing up billions of dollars to support member states hosting Ukrainian refugees. Photo by Dumitru Doru/EPA-EFE

March 23 (UPI) -- The European Union has announced a slew of Ukraine-related measures, aimed at bolstering not only the besieged nation's military but also economies impacted by Russian-aimed sanctions and the capacity of neighboring countries to accept refugees.

The measures were separately announced by the EU's council and commission on Wednesday as the war in Eastern Europe enters its second month.


The war, which began Feb. 24 with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has caused more than 3.6 million people to flee to neighboring countries, with Poland accepting more than 2.1 million of them, according to United Nations' data.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed Wednesday to mobilize $3.7 billion to support member states, such as Poland, who are hosting Ukrainian refugees.

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The pre-financing payments will be made available through its REACT-EU to speed up access to them, though specifics on how the money can be used were not released.


The measure follows the EU early this month granting Ukrainians fleeing the war Temporary Protected Status, which was applied by ministers activating a 2001 directive that has never been used to ensure Ukrainians will be given a residence permit and access to employment, housing, welfare, healthcare, education and other such services.

"I count on you, honorable members, to greenlight this money quickly," she said during a speech on Wednesday. "This will send a strong message of our common commitment to supporting the Ukrainian people."

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The EU Commission, which is the 27-member bloc's executive branch, also adopted the Temporary Crisis Framework to aid member states weather the economic hardships caused by the war, in particular the knock-on effect of sanctions adopted by the EU against Russia.

The EU has adopted four sanctions packages targeting Russia with possibly more coming over its invasions of Ukraine while Democratic partners, including the United States, have unveiled similar measures of their own, dealing significant damage to Russia's economy.

But they have also affected the economies of member states, the commission's executive vice-president, Margrethe Vestager, said in a statement announcing the framework.

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"We need to mitigate the economic impact of this war and to support severely impacted companies and sectors," Vestager said. "And we need to act in a coordinated manner."


The framework establishes grants up to $38,440 for companies affected in the agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors and up to roughly $439,000 per company affected in all other sectors.

Ways impacted do not need to be limited to the rise in energy prices for companies to be eligible, the commission said, stating there are multiple issues that are considered including disruptions to supply chains.

Under the framework, member states will also be able to partially compensate companies, especially intensive energy users, for additional costs due to gas and electricity price hikes, though support cannot exceed 30% of the eligible costs up to $2.1 million.

Meanwhile, the council, which defines the union's overall political direction, approved an additional $549 million for the Ukrainian Armed Forces on top of the $549 million it announced Feb. 28.

The funds will cover the provision of supplies such as personal protective equipment, first aid kits and fuel as well as military equipment and platforms the council said are "designed to deliver lethal force for defensive purposes."

The duration of the assistance has also be extended by 12 months.

"We will continue supporting Ukraine against Russia's aggression and the unspeakable suffering it is inflicting on the Ukrainian population," said Joseph Borrell, the high representatives of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.


Scenes from the rubble: Russian forces attack Ukraine capital, Kyiv

Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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