By Francesco Guarascio and Jan Strupczewski
LUXEMBOURG, June 20 (Reuters) – Several European Union countries are pushing to start work on a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus for the invasion of Ukraine and also want to grant more military support to Kyiv, according to diplomats and a draft document.
About one-third of the 27 EU governments, mostly Nordic and eastern states, want the EU Commission to begin work on a seventh round of sanctions, diplomats said.
The latest version of the draft conclusions of a summit of EU leaders to be held later this week does not include a reference to new sanctions but diplomats said the text, dated June 15 and seen by Reuters, was likely to be tweaked after a meeting of EU envoys late on Monday.
Germany and a few other states prefer to focus now on applying existing sanctions and closing loopholes, rather than embark on the complex process of agreeing fresh measures, diplomats said.
After weeks of wrangling, the EU last month agreed to its sixth round of restrictive measures against Russia and Belarus since the start of the war in Ukraine, which included an oil ban and sanctions on shipping and banks .
Limiting or reducing import of gas from Russia is considered too sensitive at the moment, given EU’s high reliance on this source of energy from Moscow, officials said.
Ambassadors have also discussed new military support to Ukraine, although they remain divided on the matter.
According to the draft conclusions for the June 23-24 summit, the EU “remains strongly committed to providing further military support to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against Russian aggression”.
Sweden and Poland lead a group of Nordic and eastern countries calling for an immediate disbursement of additional funds to Ukraine.
The EU has already made available 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in military support to Kyiv from a so-called European Peace Facility.
The budget ceiling on this facility is 5.6 billion euros until 2027, but with approved funding to Kyiv and plans for more, half of its resources will have been used up, officials said.
Germany and other states are reluctant to tap this facility further, citing budgetary concerns and risks that not enough money would be available for other crises.
In the draft conclusions, a paragraph on the question of further military support for Ukraine through the facility is in brackets, meaning that this reference is likely to be revised. ($1 = 0.9493 euros)
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio Editing by John Chalmers and Alison Williams
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