To help Ukraine defend itself against Russian invaders, the EU plans to allocate a further 500 million euros. However, these funds should not be used for medical care, hospitals, food, defense systems or similar supplies – no, the sum was explicitly intended for the delivery of heavy weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces, it said on Friday (eXXpress reported). With this fourth support package, the military aid that the EU has pledged to Ukraine since the beginning of the war at the end of February increases to two billion euros – and also brings the Austrian neutrality debate back on the agenda.
Because: Even if direct aid from Austria to Ukraine has so far been strictly limited to humanitarian aid supplies and defensive army equipment, Austria, as part of the EU, is now also a co-sponsor of the new EU investment in heavy weapons for Ukraine through its membership – which is actually cannot be reconciled with the neutral status of the Alpine republic.
Austria is a net contributor to the EU and co-finances the budget of the European Union with 600 to 700 million euros – per year. If Brussels now promises more arms deliveries to the EU – and this time specifies that the money should be explicitly spent on heavy artillery, Austria will find it difficult to wash its hands of neutrality.
On Friday, on the fringes of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, which was just taking place near Weißenhauser Strand on the German Baltic Sea, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the money should be spent on heavy weapons. It is about “weapons that would be needed for this type of war”. Fighter jets would not be financed with the money, Borrell said.
Austria’s sponsorship role in the recent EU arms deliveries also alarmed FPÖ chairman Herbert Kickl, who immediately spoke out in favor of stopping payments to the EU peace facility and addressed a neutrality appeal to the federal government. This is a new financing instrument that can also be used to strengthen the capabilities of armed forces in partner countries. “We’re talking about 25 million euros in Austrian tax money per year,” Kickl argued to the APA. Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) should instead “strengthen neutrality and focus on supporting your own population”. Specifically, Kickl advocates a “revival of an active policy of neutrality in the tradition of Bruno Kreisky”.
According to Kickl, the additional 500 million euros in military aid promised by the EU to Ukraine would come from the so-called peace facility – by 2027 payments from Austria would total 175 million euros. “I think these payments are ill-considered, irresponsible and indecent for many reasons,” the FPÖ chairman complained. Purchases of heavy weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine would also come from this budget pot, which the peace facility exposes as “cheating” and “pure cynicism”.
“Anyone who supplies weapons to a war does not create peace and does not save a single human life, but only supports more violence, suffering and death,” Kickl once again spoke out against such aid for Ukraine. Therefore, pumping Austrian tax money into the “Brussels War Treasury” is completely the wrong way to go. “A great power armed with weapons of destruction and weapons of destruction that is cornered – that can become a wildfire that can no longer be extinguished.”