EU support for Ukraine: from sanctions to military and humanitarian aid

  • How is the EU helping Ukraine?
  • The EU promised ‘massive sanctions’ against Russia: what do those sanctions actually mean?
  • What about Belarus? Is it also facing EU sanctions for its role in the war?
  • The EU says it will supply military equipment to Ukraine: what does this mean in practice?
  • What about humanitarian support?
  • How is the EU helping Ukrainian refugees?
  • Is the EU doing anything to support energy supply to Ukraine?
  • Ukraine has officially applied to join the European Union: how has the EU responded?
  • What is the EU doing to support the neighbouring Republic of Moldova?
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How is the EU helping Ukraine?

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European Union leaders and institutions have strongly condemned Russian aggression and the violation of international law. They demand that Russia immediately ceases military actions, unconditionally withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

In concrete terms, the EU is stepping up its support for Ukraine. For the first time ever, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack. At the same time, the EU is also strengthening sanctions against the Kremlin, as well as the Lukashenko regime in Belarus.

The EU promised ‘massive sanctions’ against Russia: what do those sanctions actually mean?

The sanctions against Russia are the largest in the history of the European Union, and are designed to take a heavy toll on the Russian economy and the Kremlin.

Acting in close coordination with its partners and allies – NATO, G7, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Japan and Australia – the EU has agreed several waves of sanctions, on 23 February in response to Russian recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, followed by six packages of sanctions since the invasion, first on 24 February in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and subsequently on 26 February, 28 February, 15 March, 8 April and 30 May, with a further “maintenance and alignment” package adopted on 21 July.



The EU has excluded key Russian banks from SWIFT, the world’s dominant financial messaging system for cross-border payments, targeting a first wave of banks on 2 March, and adding a further three Russian credit institutions, including the country’s largest bank Sberbank on 3 June. Cutting off Russia from the network will cause major disruption to its economy as it will severely restrict the country’s access to global financial markets, and makes it difficult for Russian firms and individuals to pay for imported goods or receive payments for their exports. In addition, the EU has imposed a full transaction ban and asset freeze on four key Russian banks, which are now totally cut off from the markets. They represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector and will, therefore, further weaken Russia’s financial system.

The EU has also banned the transactions of Russia’s central bank, the single most important financial institution in Russia. This paralyses billions in foreign reserves, potentially turning off the tap on Putin’s war.

EU sanctions further expand existing financial restrictions, cutting Russian access to the most important capital markets. They prohibit the listing and provision of services in relation to shares of Russian state-owned entities on EU trading venues, and introduce new measures which significantly limit the financial inflows from Russia to the EU, by prohibiting the acceptance of deposits exceeding certain values from Russian nationals or residents, the holding of accounts of Russian clients by the EU Central Securities Depositories, as well as the selling of euro-denominated securities to Russian clients. The sanctions include crypto-assets.

The EU has also banned the provision of any credit rating services, as well as access to any subscription services in relation to credit rating activities, to any Russian person or entity, which would result in them losing even further access to the EU’s financial markets.

On 3 June, the EU also agreed to prohibit the provision of certain business-relevant services, such as accounting, auditing, statutory audit, bookkeeping and tax consulting services, business and management consulting, and public relations services to the Russian government, as well as to legal persons, entities or bodies established in Russia.

These sanctions target 70% of the Russian banking market, and key state-owned companies, including in the field of defence. They will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base. Additionally measures are taken to prevent the Russian elite’s fortunes from being hidden in safe havens in Europe.

Airspace and transport

The European Union is shutting down EU airspace for all Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft, including private jets. They will no longer be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.

On 8 April, the EU imposed an entry ban on Russian-flagged vessels to EU ports, and a ban ban on Russian and Belarusian freight road operators working in the EU. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy.

The EU has also introduced an export ban covering goods and technology in the aviation and space industry, as well as a prohibition on the provision of insurance and reinsurance and maintenance services related to those goods and technology. Three quarters of Russia’s current commercial air fleet were built in the EU, the US and Canada.


On 30 May, the EU agreed a ban on Russian oil imports. The sanctions will immediately impact 75% of Russian oil imports, and 90% by the end of the year.  A temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline will be made, benefitting Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. After a wind down period of 6 months, EU operators will also be barred from insuring and financing the transport, in particular through maritime routes, of Russian oil to third countries.

The EU has also prohibited the sale, supply, transfer or export to Russia of specific goods and technologies in oil refining, and  introduced restrictions on the provision of related services.

By introducing such an export ban, the EU intends to hit the Russian oil sector, and make it impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries.

On 15 March, the EU further prohibited new investments in the Russian energy sector, and introduced a comprehensive export restriction on equipment, technology and services for the energy industry.

The fifth round of sanctions on 8 April imposed an import ban on all forms of Russian coal. This affects one fourth of all Russian coal exports, amounting to around €8 billion loss of revenue per year for Russia.


The EU has imposed restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology, as well as restrictions on exports of certain goods and technology which might contribute to Russia’s technological enhancement of its defence and security sector. This includes products such as semiconductors or cutting-edge technologies, as well as jet fuel and fuel additives, which may be used by the Russian army.

On 9 March, the EU introduced additional restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio communication technology, added the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping to the list of state-owned enterprises subject to financing limitations and introduced a prior information sharing provision for exports of maritime safety equipment.

On 8 April, the EU introduced further targeted export bans in areas in which Russia is vulnerable due to its high dependency on EU supplies. This includes quantum computing, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery, transportation and chemicals. It also includes specialist catalysts for use in the refinery industry. 

On 3 June, the EU expanded its list of export restrictions to include additional chemicals that could be used in the process of manufacture of chemical weapons.


On 15 March, the EU introduced trade restrictions concerning iron and steel, amounting to approximately €3.3 billion in lost export revenue for Russia.


The EU, together with other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, agreed on 15 March to deny Russian products and services most favoured nation treatment in EU markets. This follows an announcement on 11 March by G7 members. This will suspend the significant benefits that Russia enjoys as a WTO member.

The EU has also imposed import bans on cement, rubber products, wood, spirits (including vodka), liquor, and high-end seafood (including caviar). On 21 July, it added a ban on the import of gold originating in Russia.


The EU has suspended the broadcasting activities of Sputnik and RT/Russia Today as well as Rossiya RTR/RTR Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24, and TV Centre International – identified  among the most important pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets targeting audiences in Ukraine and the EU, and disseminating propaganda in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

This measure will be effective until the aggression against Ukraine is put to an end, and until the Russian Federation and its associated outlets cease to conduct disinformation and information manipulation actions against the EU and its member states.

Restrictive measures

Restrictive measures now apply to a total of 1,212 individuals and 108 entities: they include an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. In addition, a travel ban applicable to the listed persons prevents these from entering or transiting through EU territory.

The list includes the Russian President and Foreign Minister, the members of the National Security Council who supported Russia’s recognition of the two non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, all the members of the Russian State Duma, who ratified the government decision of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the two entities. It also includes oligarchs and businessmen active in the oil, banking and finance sectors, and the metallurgical, agriculture, pharmaceutical, telecom and digital industries, as well as government members, high-level military personalities and senior military officials involved in atrocities in Ukraine, and propagandists who have contributed to spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda and promote a positive attitude towards the invasion of Ukraine.

The EU has also decided to prohibit all transactions with certain state-owned enterprises across different sectors – the Kremlin’s military-industrial complex.

In addition, diplomats, other Russian officials, and businesspeople will no longer be able to benefit from visa facilitation provisions, which allow privileged access to the EU. This decision will not affect ordinary Russian citizens.

The EU has also taken measures to limit the sale of citizenship – so-called golden passports – that allow wealthy Russians to become EU citizens, and has introduced an EU export ban on luxury goods (e.g. luxury cars, jewelry, etc.) to directly hit Russian elites.

You can find all the latest sanctions updates on our #StandWithUkraine page and on the European Commission’s page on EU sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

What about Belarus? Is it also facing EU sanctions for its role in the war?

The Lukashenko regime in Belarus is supporting the Russian military aggression against Ukraine by allowing Russia to fire ballistic missiles from the Belarusian territory, enabling transportation of Russian military personnel and heavy weapons, tanks, and military transporters, allowing Russian military aircraft to fly over Belarusian airspace into Ukraine, providing refuelling points, and storing Russian weapons and military equipment in Belarus.

In response, the EU has imposed sanctions targeting those in Belarus who collaborate with these attacks against Ukraine and restricting trade in a number of key sectors.

A total of 42 high-ranked members of Belarusian military personnel face restrictive measures for their role in the war, which include an asset freeze and travel ban.

Furthermore, the EU has introduced  restrictions in the trade of goods used for the production or manufacturing of tobacco products, mineral fuelsbituminous substances and gaseous hydrocarbon products, potassium chloride (“potash”) products, wood products, cement products, iron and steel products and rubber products. There are also restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology, and certain advanced goods and technology which might contribute to Belarus’ military, technological, defence and security development, together with restrictions on the provision of related services.

On 9 March, the EU introduced SWIFT prohibitions against three Belarusian banks – Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt, and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus – adding the Belarusian Bank For Development And Reconstruction on 3 June. It also prohibited transactions with the Central Bank of Belarus related to the management of reserves or assets, and the provision of public financing for trade with and investment in Belarus.


The EU says it will supply military equipment to Ukraine: what does this mean in practice?

Another taboo has fallen, in the words of EU High Representative Josep Borrell: for the first time in its history, the EU will be providing lethal equipment to a third country.

The EU initially agreed to mobilise €500 million through the European Peace Facility to finance the supply of lethal and non-lethal material to the Ukrainian armywith additional tranches of €500 million added on 23 March, 13 April, 13 May and 19 July, for a total of €2.5 billion.

The agreed measures will finance both the provision of equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by EU Member States, including personal protective equipment, first aid kits and fuel, as well as military equipment designed to deliver lethal force for defensive purposes. 


What about humanitarian support?

€348 million has been made available for humanitarian aid projects to help civilians affected by the war in Ukraine. This includes €335 million for Ukraine and €13 million for Moldova to provide assistance to people fleeing Ukraine. This EU humanitarian aid provides food, water, healthcare, shelter and helps cover people’s basic needs.

Another €330 million goes to an emergency support programme that helps to secure access to basic goods and services, such as to education, healthcare and food. It also helps to protect the population, both internally displaced people and of their host communities and to support small and medium enterprises and agriculture. Another important goal is to reconstruct civilian small-scale infrastructure, ensure energy security, and strengthen cyber security, media freedom and actions against disinformation.

At the ‘Stand Up for Ukraine’ global pledging event on 9 April, launched by the European Commission and Canada, €9.1 billion was raised for people fleeing the Russian invasion, inside Ukraine and abroad, including €1 billion from the European Commission. On top of that, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has announced an additional €1 billion in loan to cover the needs of the people displaced by the invasion.

The Commission is also coordinating the delivery of material assistance via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to Ukraine, with offers from all 27 EU Member States, as well as Norway, Turkey and North Macedonia, in what is now  the largest ever activation of the Mechanism. The assistance includes over 80 million items such as first aid kits, shelter equipment, firefighting equipment, water pumps, power generators, and fuel, and the EU keeps receiving new offers every day. 

Moldova has also activated the Mechanism to support Ukrainians arriving to their country. Already Austria, France and the Netherlands have offered emergency support such as shelter items and medical assistance to Moldova. On 3 March, the EU announced immediate support of €15 million to Moldova, and an additional €5 million in civil protection aid.

As needs have grown exponentially, further assistance has been sent to Ukraine via the rescEU medical stockpiles based in Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands. With a total financial value of over €14 million, the rescEU support includes ventilators, infusion pumps, patient monitors, masks and gowns, ultrasound devices and oxygen concentrators.

You can find all the latest updates on EU support on our #StandWithUkraine page and on the European Commission’s EU Solidarity with Ukraine page.

How is the EU helping Ukrainian refugees?

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, almost six million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe since the war began, while almost four million have registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe.

On 4 March, the Council of the European Union unanimously agreed to activate the Temporary Protection Directive to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

This means that those fleeing the war will be granted temporary protection across the European Union: this includes residency rights, access to the labour market, access to housing, social welfare assistance, medical or other assistance, and means of subsistence.

Temporary protection starts applying to Ukrainian refugees immediately for one year, and can last for up to three years – unless the situation in Ukraine improves sufficiently for people to go back home and the scheme to end.

Non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, such as asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection and their family members, will also be granted protection in the EU. Others who are legally present in Ukraine for a short-term and are able to return safely to their country of origin will be allowed access to the EU to transit prior to returning to their countries of origin.

The EU has also ordered simplification of border controls for those fleeing the war, flexibility regarding entry conditions, opening temporary border crossing points, easy access for rescue services and humanitarian assistance, and facilitations for refugees bringing personal belongings and pets.

A dedicated EU webpage provides information for refugees leaving Ukraine, with comprehensive information on their rights in the EU, practical advice and links to available support in individual member states. Information for people fleeing the war in Ukraine


Is the EU doing anything to support energy supply to Ukraine?

On 16 March, the Ukrainian electricity grid – together with that of Moldova – was successfully synchronised with the Continental European Grid, in an acceleration of a project begun in 2017, with technicians from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO E) doing “a year’s work in two weeks” after Ukraine disconnected its grid from the Russian system on the day of the invasion.


The EU is also delivering gas to Ukraine through physical reverse flow capacity from West to East. “The first such deliveries from Hungary took place this winter. The physical reverse flow capacity between Slovakia and Ukraine has been increased and discussions are ongoing to extend this to the next heating seasons,” European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said on 28 February.

The European Commission has also provided Member States with a list of requests from Ukraine with urgent needs in the energy sector. The list covers things like diesel, petrol, jet fuel and generators. Concrete deliveries are already scheduled from Poland, Lithuania and Czechia and many other Member States have pledged their help.

On 11 May, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided €50 million of emergency liquidity to Ukrenergo, the country’s electricity transmission company, to enable the stable functioning of the Ukrainian electricity grid as well as nuclear generators and maintain power supplies to industries and households.

Ukraine has officially applied to join the European Union: how has the EU responded?

On 23 June, a Summit of EU leaders unanimously agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine, following a recommendation from the European Commission on 17 June. 

Ukraine now needs to make progress on the conditions set out in the European Commission’s Opinion on its application in areas including anti-corruption and the rule of law. The Commission will monitor Ukraine’s progress in fulfilling these steps and report on them by the end of 2022. The EU will decide on the next steps once these conditions are fully met.

Ukraine formally applied to join the European Union on 28 February

A week later, on 7 March, the EU agreed to begin examining the accession bids from the three countries, with the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER II), agreeing to invite the European Commission to present an opinion on each of the applications. While the move is technical, it launches the process for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to be accepted as candidate countries.

During her visit to Kyiv on 8 April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy the questionnaire, which forms the starting point for the EU to decide on Ukraine’s membership.

The questionnaire is a formal instrument through which the European Commission assesses a country’s readiness to move forward in the accession process, namely to be granted candidate country status and to open accession negotiations. 

“Due to our Association Agreement, Ukraine is already closely aligned with our Union. So we will accelerate this process as much as we can, while ensuring that all conditions are respected,” von der Leyen said.

Since the signature of the Association Agreement in 2014, Ukraine has embarked on an ambitious reform programme to accelerate economic growth and improve the livelihoods of its citizens. In that timeframe, the EU and financial institutions have mobilised more than €17 billion in grants and loans to support reforms.

On 3 March, both the Republic of Moldova and Georgia also made formal applications to join the European Union.

On 23 June, the EU granted Moldova candidate status, and recognised the European perspective of Georgia, saying candidate status would be granted once a number of priorities had been addressed.

You can find all the latest updates on Ukraine’s application to join the EU on our #StandWithUkraine page and on the European Commission’s EU Solidarity with Ukraine page.





What is the EU doing to support the neighbouring Republic of Moldova?

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU has stressed its unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. “Moldova has a right to choose its foreign policy course and we believe strongly that Moldova belongs to the European family. We will continue to cooperate intensively on the basis of our Association Agreement,” EU High Representative Josep Borrell said on a visit to Moldova on 3 March.

The EU has underlined its solidarity with Moldova as it faces an influx of refugees – in the first week of the war, Moldova provided safe passage to more than 100,000 refugees escaping the war in Ukraine, including more than 20,000 children.

In concrete terms, the EU will provide €15 million to help manage the immediate refugee crisis, and an additional €5 million in civil protection aid. Following Moldova’s request for assistance under the EU’s civil protection mechanism, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Finland and Sweden have offered items such as ambulances, tents, blankets and a field kitchen, in addition to earlier offers by France, Austria and the Netherlands. On 10 March, the EU announced it would allocate an additional €3 million in humanitarian funding to Moldova, to support Ukrainians forced to flee their country by providing winterisation items and shelters, protection services, transportation and access to healthcare, but also cash assistance.

On 5 April, the EU announced an additional €53 million to help the Republic of Moldova cope with the multiple repercussions of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. This support will be provided as a budget support programme to be delivered as quickly as possible. 

In addition, the EU has announced support in the areas of security and defence: the EU will help Moldova to strengthen its cyber security, with an expert mission already in Chisinau to assess the needs and identify concrete support measures that can be implemented at very short notice. The EU will also provide the Moldovan armed forces with medical equipment and support in case of crisis, and will discuss options for additional assistance and logistics, if needed.  

The European Union has also agreed to connect Moldova’s electricity system to the EU power grid as quickly as possible. 

Meanwhile, the EU continues to provide support beyond immediate needs, through an economic recovery plan worth €600 million as well as the economic and investment plan with five flagship initiatives for Moldova leveraging up to €3.4 billion.