Ukraine: Weber calls for a 'European missile defence system'
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Manfred Weber has highlighted the importance of bringing out a “concrete initiative” to ensure the security of Europe against aggressors like Russia as the war in Ukraine wages on. Mr Weber called for a “European Defence Action Plan”, including the development of missile defence systems, as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz admitted Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to be obstinate in the face of his forces’ failures in Ukraine. Mr Weber criticised the lack of “defence activities” discussed during the EU debate, claiming the day had been dominated “only by words”.
Mr Weber said: “Today, war is back in Europe. There was no Council meeting on coordinating our defence activities, only words.
“There is no initiative to stop the unanimous vote on foreign affairs, only a speech from [German] Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Prague.
“No convention to strengthen European democracy as requested by this Chamber and the Conference on the Future of Europe. Only, I have to say, there is campaigning in Paris.
“The Commission has to launch now, until December, a European Defence Action Plan as a concrete initiative in this field to invest together to build up a European missile defence system and a cyber-brigade to make Europe stronger on this. And we need a convention now.”
Russia has suffered a series of setbacks of late in its invasion of Ukraine, with the defending forces launching a number of successful counter offensives.
But Mr Scholz said Putin “unfortunately” does not seem to have realised yet that the decision to invade Ukraine is a mistake.
Mr Scholz was commenting after a phone call with Putin a day earlier, in which the pair discussed the ongoing issue of Ukraine adding it was still important to emphasise to Putin that Russia had to withdraw from Ukraine.
In the Tuesday 90-minutes phone call, Scholz urged Putin to find a diplomatic solution for the conflict in Ukraine based on a ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Russian troops as soon as possible.
Calls from world leaders to reach out to Putin have been met with scorn and accusations that it is a form of appeasement to the aggressor.
French President Emmanual Macron has been among those urging Western leaders to offer Putin a way out of this war.
But with the war now long-surpassing the six-month mark since it began, fears are resounding among the West that Russia will not back down.
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In 2016, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a European Defence Fund and other actions to support Member States’ more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthen European citizens’ security and foster a competitive and innovative industrial base.
During a State of the Union speech, he said: “To guarantee our collective security, we must invest in the common development of technologies and equipment of strategic importance – from land, air, sea and space capabilities to cyber security.
“If Europe does not take care of its own security, nobody else will do it for us. A strong, competitive and innovative defence industrial base is what will give us strategic autonomy.”
However, Mr Weber pointed out today that not enough has been done on bringing about this defensive advancement, and it remains to be seen whether the next few years will see any meaningful change.
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