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E.U. Finds a Way to Make Russia Pay for Weapons for Ukraine

Under tremendous pressure to come up with billions of dollars to support Ukraine’s military and backfill its members’ own dwindling arsenals, the European Union said Wednesday that it had devised a legal way to use frozen Russian assets to help arm Ukraine, just as it was considering other mechanisms to bolster its defense industries.

The developments are an important milestone, with U.S. funding for Ukraine remaining stuck in Congress and Ukraine’s defenses sagging as shortages of ammunition, artillery shells and missiles force battlefield rationing.

Though the E.U. is looking at a number of different ways to find cash for defense purchases, they all face hurdles.

The goal to “make Russia pay” for Ukraine’s arsenal and for its reconstruction has made for a popular slogan among the allies, but parlaying it into actual policy has proved difficult, largely because of legal concerns around liquidating Russian state assets frozen under sanctions.

Now, following months of political wrangling, the European Commission, the E.U. executive branch, has found a way to use the profits from those frozen Russian assets for Ukraine’s benefit, with most if it going to military support for Ukraine.

How the plan will work

Set for approval by E.U. leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday, the plan could provide Ukraine with up to 3 billion euros, or about $3.25 billion, a year, or as much as 15 billion euros ($16.3 billion) from 2023 to 2027, depending on market conditions. The first payment to Kyiv could be made as soon as July, the commission said on Wednesday.

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