EU Backers of Ukraine Aid Seek Alternative Funding Amid Hungarian Opposition

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Kiev’s main backers in the EU may overcome Hungarian opposition to the proposed allocation of $54 billion in long-term aid for Ukraine by providing funds outside of the bloc’s joint budget, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The Ukraine Facility, initiated by the European Commission, aims to offer financial assistance to Kiev in the upcoming four years. This funding is intended to support the city in its struggle against Russia and to aid in the process of reconstruction.

Hungary, which has been highly critical of Brussels’ approach to the Ukraine crisis, has indicated that it would veto the decision during a summit of leaders on Thursday.

THe Ukrainian government is counting on the money for its 2024 budget and has warned of “devastating consequences” if the EU comes up short, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba told journalists on Monday ahead of a meeting with his European counterparts in Brussels.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina said a failure to allocate the money would be “a failure of the entire European Union” that would impact Kiev’s chances of getting more aid from the US as well.

According to the FT, Kiev’s supporters in Brussels want to sweeten the deal for Budapest by releasing EU budget funds that were frozen due to Hungary’s perceived lapses in the rule of law and corruption.

Guardian: Orban’s supporters and US Republicans to meet for discussion on reduction of Ukraine assistance.

The alternative is to have the other 26 members pool resources, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the talks on what one of the sources called a “plan B.” Diplomats are privately discussing “the feasibility and technical details” of such a move.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell called on EU leaders to demonstrate unwavering support for Ukraine in order to maintain unity within the bloc, following a ministerial meeting.

Hungarian Minister for EU Affairs Janos Boka told the FT that his government was not likely to change its position. He claimed that the reported consent-for-frozen-funds deal would amount to “political blackmail not from Hungary, but against Hungary” by Brussels.

However, he added that it was feasible for assistance outside of the EU budget to be provided. This would involve “member state contributions, mutual member state guarantees, a much shorter planning period of one year instead of four years,” and would be “under the clear political leadership of the member states.”

Budapest has argued that the tens of billions of dollars and euros poured into Ukraine by Western donors have failed to end the bloodshed. Nations should instead pressure Kiev and Moscow into peace talks, the Hungarian government believes.

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