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European Union official urges G7 to step up air defence for Ukraine and expand Iran sanctions

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Capri, Apr 18 (AP) The European Union’s top diplomat urged Group of Seven foreign ministers on Thursday to take quick, concrete steps to provide more air defence systems to Ukraine, warning that continued delays could tilt the war in Moscow’s favour.

Without more Patriot air defence missile systems to guard against incoming Russian strikes, “the electricity system of Ukraine will be destroyed. And no country can fight without having electricity at home, in the factories, in the front line,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned.

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He was speaking on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers meeting on the Italian resort island of Capri, where Russia’s war in Ukraine and surging tensions in the Middle East over Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel were topping the agenda.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani opened the first working session of the meeting by calling for new sanctions against Iran for its weekend attack and concrete help for Ukraine to defend itself from Moscow’s invasion.

“If Ukraine loses, Putin will never sit at the peace table,” Tajani warned.

Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war were taking centre stage at the Capri meeting, which dovetailed with other reginal diplomatic efforts sending the same messages. On Wednesday, EU leaders meeting in Brussels vowed to ramp up sanctions on Iran to target its drone and missile deliveries to proxies in Gaza, Yemen and Lebanon.

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Borrell said the existing EU sanctions regime on Iran would be strengthened and expanded to punish Tehran for its attack and help prevent future ones on Israel. At the same time, he said, Israel needed to exercise restraint.

“I don’t want to exaggerate but we are on the edge of a war, a regional war in the Middle East, which will be sending shockwaves to the rest of the world, and in particular to Europe,” he warned. “So stop it.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg were attending the Capri meeting as guests. Kuleba underlined his country’s need for essential military support, including artillery, ammunition, and air defense systems to bolster its capacity as Russia pushes along the front line.

He thanked Germany for providing Ukraine with a Patriot battery, but urged the US Congress to approve a funding package that has been held up.

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“So we will work here at the ministerial level to make other allies deliver air defense systems to Ukraine. Because it’s of fundamental importance,” Kuleba said after meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Borrell concurred, saying Europe can’t rely solely on Washington to help Ukraine defend itself.

“Concrete decisions have to be taken in order to send to Ukraine more air defense,” he said. “We do have Patriots, we have anti-missile systems. We have to take them from the our barracks where they are just in case, and to send to Ukraine where the war is raging. And I’m sure we will be doing that, but it has to be done quickly.” (AP)

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