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22 Jan, 2024 07:30

EU eyeing new plan to bypass Hungary on Ukraine aid – WSJ

The bloc’s officials reportedly want to set up a €20 billion pool to compensate member states for arms deliveries to Kiev
EU eyeing new plan to bypass Hungary on Ukraine aid – WSJ

The EU is considering a new plan to boost military aid to Ukraine, as its proposed €50 billion (54 billion) package for Kiev remains blocked by Hungary, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

According to the article, the scheme would involve the creation of an EU-wide €20 billion fund that would be used to reimburse individual member states that provide military assistance to Kiev, including ammunition, drones, and missiles.

The WSJ reported, citing a confidential draft circulated on Friday, that the fund would absorb €6.5 billion in assets from the European Peace Facility (EPF), the EU’s off-budget instrument which compensates its members for providing aid to Ukraine. Under the proposed initiative, the fund would receive up to €5 billion each year between 2024 and 2027.

All excess funds would be used to cover the costs of the EU’s military training program for Kiev, the article said, adding that the bloc’s officials estimate that the new mechanism could allow compensation worth some €7.5 billion for member states this year alone.

The WSJ warned that one key drawback of the plan is that it would need unanimous backing from EU members. However, it would allow smaller countries to pool their resources to help Ukraine as well as eliminate the need for regular tranches of aid, frequently blocked by Hungary, which has been highly critical of the EU’s approach to the Ukraine conflict, the article said.

Formal discussions on the matter are expected to start as early as this week, with the plan likely to be a major item on the agenda of the EU summit on February 1.

The latest attempt by the EU to boost military aid to Kiev comes after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last month vetoed a €50 billion package. Hungary is at odds with Brussels over the blocking of billions in assistance to Budapest over rule-of-law concerns.

Russia has repeatedly warned the West against sending arms to Kiev, arguing that it will only prolong the conflict and make it a direct participant in the hostilities.