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EU rows threaten Ukraine’s $54 billion – FT

Compromise within the bloc is reportedly hampered by the rise of far-right parties in Europe and the financial crisis in Germany

Disputes over the EU’s joint budget could leave Ukraine without €50 billion ($54.3 bln) promised by the bloc, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. Agreement is being hampered by the far-right’s win in Dutch elections last month and a budget crisis in Germany resulting from a court ruling over unused pandemic funds, the newspaper said.

Ahead of a summit in Brussels in less than two weeks, at which the EU’s long-term budget as well as support for Ukraine will be discussed, the bloc’s 27 states are “far from reaching a deal,” the FT said, citing unnamed officials.

One source from among EU representatives said “it is a moment of truth,” pointing out that “if you say you stand by Ukraine, you have to step up to the plate.” At the same time, another official reportedly said that agreement on the bloc’s budget would be “very, very difficult.”

On Thursday, the EU’s budget commissioner, Johannes Hahn, said that Germany is currently “so distracted by their domestic issues that they don’t find time to deal with [EU budget issues].” A few days earlier, however, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said “we must not let up in our support for Ukraine,” even as his country faces an energy crisis.

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Dutch elections last month ended in an unexpected win for the far-right Freedom Party (PVV), which, among other things, calls for a halt in military and financial support for Ukraine, and doesn’t support EU sanctions on Russia.

On Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and peace talks in Ukraine, said the EU should first sign a five-to-ten-year strategic partnership agreement with Kiev instead of starting membership talks. Earlier, he blocked a €50-billion EU aid package for Ukraine, saying the bloc’s strategy on the conflict had “failed.”

Hungary’s position on Kiev’s requirements from the EU could spark a “political crisis” at the December 14 summit in Brussels, Politico reported last week.

Since the beginning of June, Ukraine has been waging a counteroffensive against Russia, but has yet to achieve any significant results. According to the head of the Russian Defense Ministry, Sergey Shoigu, as of early December, Kiev has lost more than 125,000 service personnel and 16,000 units of heavy weaponry.

During an extraordinary G20 summit last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow has never refused peace talks with Kiev.

December 04, 2023 at 04:20PM

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