A 'Good Day for Europe' After $55B Ukraine Aid Deal

Hungarian leader Orban had been blocking EU package
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2023 6:12 AM CST
Updated Feb 1, 2024 5:59 AM CST
Hungary Blocks EU Funding to Ukraine
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, right, talks to Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
UPDATE Feb 1, 2024 5:59 AM CST

"A good day for Europe," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a post on X Thursday after all 27 European Union leaders agreed on a $55 billion aid package for Ukraine. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked the aid at a summit in December and there had been fears he would do so again, the BBC reports. European Council President Charles Michel said the deal agreed to at the leaders' summit in Brussels "locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine." It's not clear if concessions were made to win the approval of Orban, who was accused of "blackmail" by several other EU leaders before the Thursday meeting, the AP reports.

Dec 15, 2023 6:12 AM CST

The European Union agreed to open accession talks with Ukraine on Thursday—but Kyiv was dealt a blow hours later when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked $55 billion in EU aid. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the other 26 countries were in agreement on aid to Ukraine and there is still time to approve the long-term aid package, the BBC reports. "Ukraine is not out of money in the next few weeks," he said. "I am fairly confident we can get a deal early next year. We are thinking of late January."

If Orban continues to block the financial aid package, which includes grants and loan packages from 2024 to 2027, the other 26 countries can still provide the funds to Ukraine, but it would be "cumbersome" and would give Vladimir Putin a boost by showing there are "cracks in the group's support for Ukraine," the New York Times reports. Orban is widely seen as the Russian leader's closest ally in the EU, reports the AP. On Friday, he said providing funds to Ukraine would be an "immediate violation" of Hungary's interests and said there should be an immediate ceasefire and peace talks.

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Orban said Thursday that he planned to veto the move to open membership talks with Ukraine but he ended up leaving the room as other leaders voted, allowing the move to pass. Officials said it was just a coincidence that the EU released $11 billion in frozen funds to Hungary on the eve of the vote, the Times reports. Orban said Friday that the final decision on Ukraine's EU membership needs to be made by all 27 countries, so Hungary will have plenty of chances to block its accession. "I made it clear that we will not hesitate for a moment if the financial and economic consequences of this bad decision will be paid by the Hungarians. Those who made this decision should be the ones who pay," he said. "If necessary, we will slam the brakes." (More European Union stories.)

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