From the outset, the EU has supported Ukraine's territorial integrity, condemning the clear violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces. It has fully supported all initiatives aimed at bringing a lasting political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, using all the means available.
The EU's approach has been to combine pressure through restrictive measures with diplomatic efforts and continuing dialogue.
Diplomatic restrictions against the Russian Federation were first imposed at an extraordinary meeting of EU leaders on 6 March 2014. The EU gradually increased its restrictive measures, starting on 17 March 2014 with targeted sanctions against persons responsible for actions against Ukraine's territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. In view of Russia's actions destabilising eastern Ukraine, a first package of significant economic sanctions targeting cooperation and exchanges with Russia was announced on 29 July 2014. A reinforced package of economic sanctions was announced in September 2014.
The duration of the EU's economic sanctions against the Russian Federation is clearly linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. As part of its efforts for a political solution, the EU has stepped up its assistance to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), conducted trilateral talks on trade and energy-related issues with Russia and supported political engagement including through discussions in the Normandy format (France; Germany; Ukraine; Russia) and the Trilateral Contact Group (OSCE; Ukraine; Russia).
The Russian presidential decree of 24 April 2019, enabling the simplified issuing of passports in certain areas of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions runs counter to the spirit and objectives of the Minsk agreements. The Commission and the EEAS have issued guidance to the Members States on how to handle visa applications of the residents of non-government controlled areas.
The EU and its Member States are the biggest contributors to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, which monitors the implementation of the Minsk agreements. The EU accounts for two thirds of both the mission's budget and monitors. In addition to Member States, the EU has contributed through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace to support the Mission's capacity to fulfil its mandate.
The EU has been at the forefront of the response to the humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian needs are still high in eastern Ukraine: the conflict is affecting over 5 million people, of which 3.4 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance, especially along the contact line and in the non-government controlled territories.
The European Union and its Member States have provided financial support to the most vulnerable people. The EU, together with its Member States, is the biggest donor of humanitarian and early recovery/development assistance to Ukraine.
The EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) have operated in Ukraine since February 2014 and plays a key role in facilitating humanitarian coordination and information sharing with various humanitarian organisations, including donors, authorities and aid partners.
On April 16, 2020 the EU is stepping up humanitarian funding to help those most in need in Ukraine with an additional €13 million.
The assistance includes essential support such as basic needs, healthcare, including psychosocial support, shelter repairs, water, cash transfers and Education in Emergencies projects. All EU humanitarian aid is impartial and independent, and is provided along the line of conflict and in the non-government controlled areas. This brings the total EU humanitarian support for Ukraine to €154.8 million
In addition to financial aid, in-kind assistance was mobilised through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in the early onset of the conflict.