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28 May, 2024 08:35

EU members disagree on arming Ukraine using Russian funds – Borrell

Unanimity is required to convert the money into weapons, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said
EU members disagree on arming Ukraine using Russian funds – Borrell

An EU plan to use profits from frozen Russian sovereign assets to buy weapons for Ukraine has so far stalled due to resistance from Hungary, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has acknowledged.

On Monday, amid intense debate, according to a senior official, EU foreign ministers approved a legal framework to impose a windfall tax on income from Russia's immobilized funds, and to use 90% of the income to back Kiev’s war effort against Moscow.

Western nations have seized some $300 billion of Russian assets, most of which are held in the EU. Brussels’ plan, which Borrell strongly supports, would provide some €3 billion ($3.23 billion) for Ukraine this year alone. Moscow has warned that it will retaliate, should its property be “stolen” by the US and its allies.

Hungary, a vocal critic of Western support for Ukraine, has refused to provide any military aid to Kiev, either unilaterally or via the EU. Budapest’s approval of the arms purchase scheme is required to allow the EU “use revenues from frozen assets and to convert [them] into arms,” Borrell said.

”We have had an intense or even heated discussion on this military support for Ukraine, which is facing some obstacles in order to reach the necessary unanimity to make it effective,” he said.

Some members of the bloc said during the discussion that whatever legitimate concerns Hungary may have, its opposition should be “proportional” to the urgency of sending more weapons to Ukraine, the diplomat added.

Borrell declined to speculate on Hungary’s motives, when asked by a journalist whether Budapest may have a hidden agenda. Critics of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have accused him of being “pro-Russian” due to his stance on the Ukraine conflict.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that his government remained committed to blocking a separate €6.5 billion ($7 billion) military aid package for Ukraine.

”We continue to insist on the need to make peace, to stop the senseless killing, and to prevent the escalation of this war,” the minister explained.

Last month, Orban called the EU’s support of Ukraine a strategic error, arguing that Brussels should promote peace between Kiev and Moscow instead.

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