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23 Feb, 2024 20:29

Hungary blocks joint EU statement on Ukraine conflict anniversary – media

The bloc’s three leading officials released a condemnation of Russia instead
Hungary blocks joint EU statement on Ukraine conflict anniversary – media

A joint EU statement denouncing Moscow and promising “unwavering” support for Kiev was blocked by Hungary on Friday, two anonymous diplomats told Politico and Bloomberg.

An email from the office of Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said that “in the absence of a consensus” among the member states, the statement would be sent on behalf of Michel, European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen instead.

The statement accused Russia of a “full-scale war of aggression” and of “violence, brutality, terror and destruction,” while pledging “strong and unwavering political, military, financial, economic, diplomatic and humanitarian support” to Ukraine.

The three officials also vowed to “continue to address Ukraine’s pressing military and defense needs, including deliveries of urgently needed ammunition and missiles.”

According to one diplomat who spoke to Bloomberg and Politico, a non-NATO member of the EU had “doubts” or “reservations” about the language concerning the missiles, and was also critical that the bloc has been “silent” about the conflict in Gaza. While the country in question was not named, only Austria, Ireland and Malta are members of the EU but not of NATO.

Ukraine has been promised eventual EU membership, but the European Commission was “still working” on the framework for the accession talks, von der Leyen admitted on Wednesday. Nothing much is likely to happen until after the European Parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 6-9, she added.

Hungary has yet to comment on its veto of the joint statement. Budapest has been consistently critical of Brussels’ military support for Kiev, as opposed to seeking a negotiated peace. Hungary has also refused to send weapons to Ukraine, or to allow their delivery through its territory.

Moscow launched its military operation in 2022, after Kiev disavowed the Minsk agreements that were supposed to bring peace to the Donbass. German and French politicians later admitted that the peace process had been a ruse to buy the West time to arm Ukraine for a war against Russia.