One message for Moscow and another for Washington… EU approves aid to Ukraine

EU member states unanimously approved an aid package of more than 50 billion euros for Ukraine at an extraordinary summit held in the Belgian capital Brussels on Thursday, despite efforts made in the last hours to persuade Hungary to agree. The latter, who had earlier refrained from agreeing.

According to the concluded agreement, the European aid allocated to Ukraine ($33 billion in loans and $17 billion in donations) will be repaid over 4 years, and is included in the annex to the EU budget until 2027.

European leaders met in an extraordinary summit in Brussels to break the impasse due to opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the only one of the 27 leaders who maintained ties with Moscow.

The agreement reached by European leaders states that the European Commission will produce an annual report on Ukraine's use of the funds, and there is a possibility for leaders to request a review of the aid unanimously within two years if necessary.

Hungary demanded to be able to review this support annually, but other EU countries did not want to give it such frequent opportunities for a veto.

Agence France-Presse quoted a European diplomat – who requested anonymity – as saying that Orbán “recognized … he saw that there was discomfort, and a line that should not be crossed.”

Hungarian protest

The Hungarian leader, who is the only one among EU leaders to maintain relations with Russia, provoked the anger and discontent of his counterparts gathered last December by opposing this financial aid.

In Brussels he was accused of blackmailing the EU to secure the delivery of European funds allocated to his country, which had been blocked by the European Commission due to internal legal violations committed by Budapest.

Last December, the Commission released almost 10 billion euros, justifying Hungary's implementation of reforms to strengthen the independence of its judges. But due to Brussels' concerns, particularly regarding respect for gay rights, academic freedom and the right to asylum in Hungary, more than $20 billion of European funds are still on hold. The bulk of the funds has been allocated for the post-Covid recovery plan.

Orban regularly accuses the Commission of being politically motivated, and the compromise text reached on Thursday emphasizes the “objective, impartial and fair” nature of any EU decision on these funds.

Orban is the only European official among EU leaders who has maintained close ties with Moscow (Reuters)
Orban is the only European official among EU leaders who has maintained ties with Moscow (Reuters)

message to washington

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky – in a letter addressed to union leaders – welcomed the aid, noting his country is on track to join the European bloc after receiving organic candidate status last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared that “Russia cannot bet on any European failure to support Ukraine.” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented that it was a “strong message” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is also a message to the United States as new financial aid to Ukraine is still pending in Congress. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “I hope (it) will help ease things” so that US President Joe Biden can move forward with his plan to help the war-torn country.

Kiev is in desperate need of Western help to support its economy after nearly two years of Russian war on the country.

area development

On the other hand, Ukrainian Kherson region governor Oleksandr Prokudin and other officials said that a Russian attack on the city of Pereslavl, located in southern Ukraine, on Thursday killed two French volunteers and wounded three other foreigners.

Government prosecutors in Kherson said Russian forces launched a major drone strike in the area, and police said a Ukrainian civilian was injured.

In another context, Russian investigators said – yesterday, Thursday – that they have evidence proving that the Ukrainian military shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 with two American-made Patriot surface-to-air missiles on January 24. Military transport aircraft shot down.

Russia has repeatedly accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane and says it resulted in the death of 74 people on board, including 65 Ukrainian prisoners who were due to be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. .

Investigators published footage of body parts, which they said proved that the people on board the plane were Ukrainian soldiers. Kiev did not confirm or deny that the plane was shot down, but it questioned details of Moscow's story and called for an international investigation.

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