EU promises £4.3bn in military aid to Ukraine during unprecedented Kyiv meeting

By Isaac M October 3, 2023

The European Union (EU) promised Ukraine £4.3bn in military aid as its continuous support in the war against Russia.

The 27-nation bloc remained committed to help defeat a “brutal and inhumane” Moscow, said Josep Borrell, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs. It comes after US Congress left Ukraine war aid out of its spending bill and a pro-Russian candidate won an election in Slovakia.

Monday’s meeting in Kyiv was touted by Mr Borrell as an historic first for the EU but it comes at an awkward time for the Western countries backing Kyiv.

With summer drawing to a close, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has failed to produce the victories that Kyiv’s allies had hoped to see before mud clogs the treads of donated tanks.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, quoted by his website, said he was sure “Ukraine and the entire free world are capable of winning this confrontation. But our victory depends directly on our cooperation with you”.

Mr Borrell told a news briefing with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba that the EU remained united in its support for Ukraine. He had proposed an EU spending package for Kyiv of up to  €5bn (£4.3bn) for 2024 which he hoped to have agreed by then.

Mr Kuleba also brushed off concerns about faltering support on both sides of the Atlantic, amid the omission of Ukraine from the US spending bill.

“We don’t feel that the US support has been shattered … because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, pro-Kyiv officials in the US are scrambling to find the best way to secure approval for further assistance on top of the $113bn (£93.6bn) in security, economic and humanitarian aid the US has provided since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Leaders in the Senate, narrowly controlled by president Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats, promised to take up legislation in the coming weeks on continued support. But in the Republican-led House of Representatives, speaker Kevin McCarthy said he wanted more information from the Biden administration.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre urged Congress to act quickly.

As for the election victory of pro-Russian Slovak former prime minister Robert Fico, Mr Kuleba said a new leader would still have to form a coalition and it was “too early to judge” the impact on politics there.

German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock sought help to prepare Ukraine for winter, including air defence and energy supplies, after Russia bombed energy installations last year.

“Last winter, we saw the brutal way in which the Russian president is waging this war,” Ms Baerbock said. “We must prevent this together with everything we have, as far as possible.”

Moscow touted the congressional vote in the United States as a sign of increasing division in the West, although the Kremlin said it expected Washington to continue its support for Kyiv.

The omission of aid for Ukraine was “temporary”, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

“But we have repeatedly said before that according to our forecasts fatigue from this conflict, fatigue from the completely absurd sponsorship of the Kyiv regime, will grow in various countries, including the United States,” he said.

Additional reporting from the wires

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