April 14 (UPI) — The European Union has announced it will provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with equipment and supplies worth more than $500 million as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on democratic nations to arm it against tyranny.
The union’s European Council adopted two measures Wednesday under its European Peace Facility, an off-budget mechanism that deals with military and defense issues, to provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with some $544 million worth of personal protective equipment, first aid kits and fuel and lethal weapons.
The funds increase the EU’s military contribution to Ukraine to more than $1.6 billion as Wednesday’s decision follows similar ones made on Feb. 28 and March 23.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, resulting in the deaths of nearly 2,000 civilians with more than 4.6 million forced to flee the country and millions more internally displaced.
The money was announced as Russian troops are widely expected to attack eastern Ukraine.
“The next weeks will be decisive,” said Josep Borrell, high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement. “As Russia prepares for an offensive on the East of Ukraine, it is crucial that we continue and step up our military support to Ukraine to defend its territory and population and prevent further suffering.”
In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden also announced an additional $800 million worth of weapons for Ukraine.
The funds were announced as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on world leaders for more weaponry as he warned that if they don’t stop Russia from taking over their country, Moldova, Poland, Romania and other Baltic nations will be the Kremlin’s next target.
“It could only be stopped by force of arms. It must be done now,” he said in a video message. “Ukraine needs heavy artillery, armored vehicles, air defense systems and combat aircrafts. Anything to repel Russian repel Russian forces and stop their war crimes.”
Tanks, armored vehicles and multiple launch rocket systems were among the weapons he said they required.
“Freedom must be armed better than tyranny,” he said. “Western countries have everything to make it happen.”