EU's von der Leyen proposes using frozen Russian profits for Ukraine's military


Adds more details from speech, quotes

BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The European Union should consider using profits from frozen Russian assets to buy military supplies for Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

"It is time to start a conversation about using the windfall profits of frozen Russian assets to jointly purchase military equipment for Ukraine," she told the European Parliament in a speech urging the EU to do more on defence policy.

"There could be no stronger symbol and no greater use for that money than to make Ukraine and all of Europe a safer place to live."

Von der Leyen said the threat of war for the EU "may not be imminent, but it is not impossible".

"The risks of war should not be overblown, but they should be prepared for and that starts with the urgent need to rebuild, replenish, modernise member states' armed forces," she said.

In her speech, von der Leyen previewed a new European Industrial Defence Strategy that her commission will present in the coming weeks, saying one of its main aims would be to prioritise joint procurement.

"Europe should strive to develop and manufacture the next generation of battle-winning operational capabilities," she said. "That means turbo-charging our defence industrial capacity in the next five years."

She said greater European efforts in defence would not diminish the need for the NATO alliance.

"In fact, a more sovereign Europe, in particular on defence, is vital to strengthening NATO," she said.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray, editing by Bart Meijer)


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