EU agrees £43 billion aid deal to Ukraine, overcoming reluctance from Hungary

1 February 2024, 12:18

The EU has agreed an aid package for Ukraine
The EU has agreed an aid package for Ukraine. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The European Union has agreed a €50 billion (£43 billion) aid deal for Ukraine to support Kyiv in its war against Russia, overcoming Kremlin ally Hungary, which had vetoed the agreement in December.

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The aid package covers the period from 2024-2027, and will be reviewed in two years' time.

Yearly discussions will also be held on the deal, which was agreed by all 27 EU members at a European Council meeting on Thursday.

The EU had failed to agree on aid for Ukraine in December after Hungary, widely considered Moscow's key ally in the bloc, vetoed a deal.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban had wanted the aid to go in four annual packages of €12.5 billion (£10.7 billion), and for the deal to be reviewed each year.

Hungary also wanted its own funding from the EU, withheld since 2022 over corruption and human rights concerns, to be unfrozen. Despite the Ukraine deal agreed on Thursday, Hungary's EU funding remains withheld.

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European Council president Charles Michel said that the aid agreement shows that the EU is "taking leadership and responsibility in support for Ukraine.

He added: "We know what is at stake".

Mr Michel said the deal "locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for Ukraine".

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was "grateful" for the support.

He added: "It is very important that the decision was made by all 27 leaders, which once again proves strong EU unity.

"Continued EU financial support for Ukraine will strengthen long-term economic and financial stability, which is no less important than military assistance and sanctions pressure on Russia."

Denis Shmyhal, Ukraine's prime minister, hailed the deal, saying that "EU Member States one more time show their solidarity & unity in the actions to Ukrainian people to withstand the war".

EU president Ursula von der Leyen said that the agreement showed that the European Council had "delivered" on its priorities, which include supporting Ukraine.

Putin says goals in Ukraine remain the same and no peace until they are achieved

The US is the largest donor to Ukraine, with about £61 billion in total aid commitments. But discussions on more help have stalled in Congress, with many Republicans reluctant to continue funding a war that appears to have no end in sight.

The UK has committed about £12 billion, making it the third-largest individual donor country behind Germany. The latest package came earlier this month.

Ukraine continues to battle against Russia nearly two years since the invasion. Some Western leaders hoped last year that Ukrainian forces could push Vladimir Putin's army out of the east of the country.

But Ukraine made little progress against Russian troops, who are occupying well-fortified defensive lines. Many onlookers are now pessimistic about the chances of Ukraine expelling the Russian forces from the country.

Ukrainian leaders have said they remain committed to victory, and have warned that if Western support wavers, Putin may sense weakness and attack other eastern European countries.

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