UPDATED: EU ministers approve 500 mln euros in military aid to Ukraine – sources

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BRUSSELS, Jan 23 (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday approved a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine worth 500 million euros ($544 mln), three diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Earlier, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hopes member states would be able to approve another 500 million euro ($545.00 million) tranche in aid money for Ukraine during a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Borrell said he was hopeful EU members would reach an agreement on the funds, which are part of the European Peace Facility.

In Other Developments

WEAPONS AND DIPLOMACY

* German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, under pressure to allow the shipment of German-made tanks to Ukraine, said all decisions on weapons deliveries would be made in coordination with allies including the United States.

* French President Emmanuel Macron said he does not rule out the possibility of sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine, speaking at a summit with Scholz.

* Germany and France vowed to assist Ukraine for as long as needed and to support efforts to prosecute war criminals.

* American lawmakers pushed the U.S. government to export M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying that even sending a symbolic number would be enough to push European allies to do the same.

* Britain still wants an international deal to provide Ukraine with the German-made tanks that Kyiv says it needs in its fight against Russia but whose transfer needs Germany’s consent, British foreign minister James Cleverly said.

* The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania made a joint call to Germany on Saturday to step up its leadership and send its main battle tanks to Ukraine, putting further pressure on Berlin to move faster on aiding Kyiv.

* Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv on a surprise trip, meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and pledging that Britain would “stick by Ukraine as long as it takes”.

* A senior adviser to Zelenskiy urged Kyiv’s allies on Saturday to “think faster” about stepping up their military support, a day after they failed to agree on sending battle tanks coveted by Kyiv.

* Germany’s new defence minister, Boris Pistorius, plans to visit Ukraine soon, he told a German newspaper.

* Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of U.S. weaponry is in place and training has been provided, a senior Biden administration official said on Friday.

* A close ally of President Vladimir Putin said that deliveries of offensive weapons to Kyiv that threaten Russia’s territories will lead to a global catastrophe and make arguments against using weapons of mass destruction untenable.

FIGHTING

* Russia increased shelling of Ukraine’s eastern regions outside the main front line in the Donbas industrial area, officials from the Zaporizhzhia and Sumy regions said on Saturday.

* Russia’s defence ministry said for the second straight day on Sunday that its forces were improving their positions in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

ECONOMY

* Western countries are working to structure price caps on Russian refined petroleum products to ensure continued flow of Russian diesel, but the markets are complicated and there is a chance things do not go to plan, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

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