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Hungary Blocks EU Aid Package for Ukraine

Written by on December 15, 2023

Hungary on Friday blocked a European Union financial aid package for Ukraine, while the EU on Thursday agreed to begin membership talks with the beleaguered country.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used his veto to block the aid package, but European Council President Charles Michel said 26 of the EU’s 27 countries have agreed on the $54 billion financial aid package for Ukraine that it urgently needs to beat back the Russian invasion.

Michel said Sweden has to consult with its parliament about the aid package, but that move is standard procedure for Sweden.

Michel said the EU “will try to get unanimity” on the budget for Ukraine early next year.

Despite the roadblocks that Hungary’s leader has thrown into the negotiations with Ukraine, Michel said, “This is a historic moment, a historic European Council.”

Orban had said for weeks that he was opposed to Ukraine joining the EU and would veto the move.

In the end he did not use his veto for Ukraine’s EU membership. Instead, he was reported to have left the room when the accession vote was taken in Brussels, leaving the other 26 members of the bloc to make an unanimous decision.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Orban failed to use his veto because “he realized that it would be indefensible.”

The EU membership negotiations are “a victory for Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after the announcement. “A victory for all of Europe.”

Zelenskyy’s victory comes after his recent trip to Washington where he failed to convince U.S. lawmakers to release additional funds for Ukraine’s fight against Russia. The U.S. has already given Ukraine more than $100 billion, but Republican lawmakers want any new funds for Ukraine tied to changes on securing the U.S. border with Mexico.

However, Zelenskyy said in his daily address that Nordic countries have promised aid packages worth more than $1.4 billion.

 

FILE – From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel walk together during an EU summit in Brussels on Feb. 9, 2023.


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