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EU foreign ministers approve Ukraine aid, Iran sanctions

October 17, 2022

The EU has approved new sanctions targeting Iran's so-called morality police, as top diplomats gathered in Luxembourg. Also on the agenda is increased financial aid and military training for Ukraine.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the decision to sanction Iranian officials was unanimous Image: Virginia Mayo/AP Photo/picture alliance

The European Union's top diplomats met in Luxembourg on Monday and approved the launch of a training mission for Ukrainian troops.

The bloc also sanctioned a number of Iranian officials and institutions due to a crackdown on protests over the death of Jina Mahsa Amini in police custody.

EU launches training mission

The bloc's foreign ministers pledged €500 million ($487 million) in additional funding for arms deliveries to Kyiv, as well as a scheme to train 15,000 soldiers starting in November.

The new tranche raises EU's arms contributions to Ukraine to €3.1 billion, top diplomat Josep Borrell said.

The German government confirmed it would be "right at the forefront" of such training exercises, having already led a similar mission in recent months. The training is set to take place in Germany and Poland.

The training mission will have a budget of around €105 million over a two-year period. Programs currently run by individual member states are set to continue.

Fresh sanctions over Iran protest crackdown

The bloc approved new sanctions on Iran's "morality police," which is tasked with enforcing Iran's Islamic dress code.

The force has drawn broad international condemnation following the death in police custody of Jina Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly wearing attire considered inappropriate. 

The diplomats also discussed sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans on some 15 Iranian officials tied to the violent crackdown against widespread protests that broke out following Amini's death.

Among those sanctioned were Iran's information minister, the cyber division of the Revolutionary Guards and a uniformed branch of the national police.

Arriving at the conference, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that the EU "cannot and will not" close its eyes to peaceful protesters being "brutally beaten" in Iran.   

Also on the agenda was a stalled nuclear deal and allegations that Tehran is supplying Russia with weapons for its invasion of Ukraine.

"We will look for concrete evidence about the participation [of Iran in the Ukraine war]," EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived at the summit. He also said it was "a pity" that talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal had sputtered again, "because we were very, very close" to an agreement.

Debating new approach to Beijing

Another important topic for the ministers is the EU's relationship with China, a signal that the EU may begin taking a tougher stance on Beijing amid rights abuses and support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

"There is increasing realism in the dialogue with China. We are leaving naivety behind," said Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra after his arrival in Luxembourg.

es,sdi/rs (dpa, Reuters)