EU agrees massive Ukraine aid deal in ‘message’ to Putin
DE Online Desk
BRUSSELS: European Union leaders on Thursday overcame months of opposition from Hungarian leader Viktor Orban to agree 50 billion euros ($54 billion) of aid for Ukraine, in a move they hailed as a strong message to Russia.
The deal to keep funds flowing to Ukraine comes as doubts over support from Kyiv’s Western backers have buoyed Russian President Vladimir Putin, nearly two years into his invasion of the neighbouring country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the European Union for the funds, which he called “long-awaited”.
“Today the EU has made a long-awaited decision,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “This is a clear signal to Moscow that Europe will withstand and that Europe will not be broken,” he continued.
“The message is clear,” said French President Emmanuel Macron after the Brussels summit wrapped up. “Russia cannot count on any fatigue from Europeans in their support for Ukraine.”
Macron said the deal likewise sent a message to Washington — where billions of dollars in aid are held up in Congress — “that the European Union is here, committed and delivers.”
In an abrupt about-face at the start of the gathering, Orban agreed to drop his veto on the four-year package for Kyiv in the face of intense pressure from the EU’s other 26 leaders.
The Hungarian nationalist appeared to come away largely empty-handed — securing only the promise of a possible review on the spending in two years.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced hope that the EU decision could assist US President Joe Biden in convincing reluctant Republicans to pass Washington’s own $60-billion proposal for support for Ukraine.
“I hope that the message that we’re sending out today and the discussions we’re having today is helping him,” Scholz said.
The EU money will plug holes in the Ukrainian government’s budget to allow it to pay salaries and services, as its outgunned soldiers battle to hold back Moscow’s forces.