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5 Oct, 2023 13:13

EU can’t compensate Ukraine for missing US aid – Borrell

The bloc can only do so much to cover Kiev’s expenses, its foreign policy chief has said
EU can’t compensate Ukraine for missing US aid – Borrell

The EU cannot fully replace US support for Ukraine even if it boosts its aid programs, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said. The warning comes after the US Congress declined to include Ukraine assistance in a stopgap spending bill last week.

“Ukraine needs the support of the European Union, which will certainly be increased, but also the support of the United States,” the senior official said on Thursday as he arrived at the European Political Community summit in Granada, Spain.

He stressed that Europe could not fill the gap left by the US and expressed hope that Washington would reverse the situation.

The flow of American funding was disrupted last week after a Republican push to reduce budgetary spending. A 45-day temporary budget, which was adopted as a compromise solution, allocated no money for Ukraine at all.

In August, the administration of US President Joe Biden asked lawmakers to provide an additional $24 billion to support Kiev. Amid the congressional deadlock, the White House sought to ensure that the flow of cash would not be interrupted.

The crisis in the US was exacerbated this week when Kevin McCarthy was ousted as House speaker. Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced a motion to remove him from the position over an alleged secret deal with the Biden administration to keep Ukraine assistance flowing.

Meanwhile, the EU is also struggling to maintain a consensus on sending money to its eastern neighbor. Last week, Hungary suggested splitting a proposed €50 billion ($52.4 billion) aid package in the bloc’s long-term budget into two installments, with the second half pending further evaluation, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

Budapest has been blocking €500 million in military aid for Ukraine since May. The European Commission is reportedly willing to release billions of euros in funds for Hungary in order to get the country on board. The funds were frozen last December over rule-of-law criticisms.

Borrell announced that Brussels was seeking to add €5 billion in multi-year defense assistance when he met Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba on Monday. He also vowed to maintain the assistance regardless of what happens in Washington.

EU leaders are meeting in Granada to discuss the bloc’s future spending and plans for future expansion. A reform supported by Germany and France would introduce a multi-tier membership system to accommodate candidates based on their merits. Ukraine, which aspires to become a member, has insisted on full-fledged participation, saying it cannot accept anything less.