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EU arms embargo on Ukraine

In early 2014 political violence in Ukraine escalated and demonstrators were killed by Ukrainian security forces. 

On 20 February 2014 the EU Foreign Affairs Council, in reaction to the violence, announced that EU member states had agreed to suspend licences for export to Ukraine of equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licences for military equipment. 

In contrast to most other EU restrictive measures related to the export of arms, the Council did not issue a decision or a regulation. The partial arms embargo is therefore not legally binding but is solely a political commitment.

The Council imposed no time limits on the restrictions, nor did it clarify the definition of 'suspension' or 'equipment, which might be used for internal repression'. The latter can be assumed to include certain types of arms and military equipment, such as small arms of the types used by the Ukrainian security forces during the deadly violence. However, it could also include other items that are not covered by the EU definition of 'arms and military equipment' as described in the EU Common Military List, for example those included in the definition of 'equipment which can be used for internal repression' issued in relation to EU sanctions on Belarus.

After the change in political leadership in Ukraine and the armed rebellion in Eastern Ukraine with Russian involvement on 16 July 2014 EU Member States agreed to discontinue the application of their agreement of 20 February 2014 on export licences. 

Last updated on
Embargo type: EU embargoes
Entry into force:
Lifted: 16 July 2014
Establishing document: EU agreement