Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), Ukraine finds itself grappling for continued support in its ongoing conflict with Russia. The nation’s plea for additional financial aid and arms from the European Union and the United States is at a critical juncture. Amidst this backdrop, the European Union faces internal discord over a proposed €50 billion budget support for Kyiv through 2027. The situation is mirrored in Washington, where a bipartisan divide casts uncertainty over the release of a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine.
The latest challenge for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky comes in the form of a cautious communication from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to EU President Charles Michel. Orbán, in a letter that blends respect with firmness, has requested Michel to rethink the agenda for the upcoming summit of the 27 European heads of government in Brussels. Orbán’s stance is clear: he’s hesitant about increasing EU countries’ contributions to the European Commission, which aims to channel €50 billion in loans and subsidies to Kyiv, crucial for sustaining governmental functions like paying soldiers and hospital staff.
Compounding the issue, Orbán also stands against the Commission’s push to initiate EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova, advocating for the removal of this topic from the summit’s agenda to avoid what he foresees as an imminent “clear failure.” These decisions, requiring a unanimous nod from all 27 EU leaders, highlight the complexities of consensus-building in the Union.
Efforts to navigate these diplomatic waters are underway, with EU-China summit attendee Michel cutting his visit short to focus on preparing for the EU countries’ summit. His prior attempt to sway Orbán in Budapest bore little fruit. However, this time, Michel is not alone in his endeavors. French President Emmanuel Macron is set to meet Orbán, signaling a concerted effort to find common ground. Hungary’s conditional support for further aid to Ukraine, expressed at the last EU summit, underscores the country’s demand for convincing arguments, a demand Orbán feels remains unmet. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s veiled remarks about corruption in Ukraine add another layer to the already complex situation.
In a strategic move, the European Commission announced the potential release of over €10 billion in aid to Hungary, previously withheld due to concerns over rule of law violations. Critics, however, speculate this as an attempt to win Hungary’s approval for the Ukraine aid package. This is not the first time Hungary’s veto power has influenced European decisions, such as with last year’s events, where Hungary’s veto led to weakened sanctions against Russia and hindered additional funding for Ukraine’s arms support.
On a broader scale, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged members to maintain support for Ukraine, framing it as pivotal for the alliance’s own security guarantees. This appeal comes as U.S. President Joe Biden seeks Congressional approval for a substantial €100 billion aid package, aimed not only at Ukraine but also Israel, Gaza, and Taiwan. Despite general bipartisan support in the U.S., a faction within the Republican Party views the $60 billion portion for Ukraine as excessive, casting doubt on the package’s unaltered passage.
As these diplomatic and political chess moves unfold, the fate of Ukraine’s support hangs in a delicate balance, influenced by a complex web of national interests, political stances, and the overarching quest for a stable and secure international order.
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