The European Union has announced a proposed spending package of up to $5.25 billion for Ukraine’s defense needs in 2024, in a show of solidarity with Kyiv amid Russia’s ongoing war in the region.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made the announcement on Monday, after convening a historic meeting of EU foreign ministers in Kyiv, the first time the bloc’s top diplomats met outside existing EU territory.
Borrell said the meeting was a message of “resolute and lasting support” for Ukraine, which he called “an existential threat” for Europe. He also reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to Ukraine’s future membership in the bloc.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed the EU’s gesture and urged the bloc to intensify sanctions against Russia, which he accused of waging a “brutal” war against his country. He said Ukraine needed more money, more weapons and more military training to liberate its occupied territories and protect its people and economy from Russian attacks.
The EU’s aid package comes amid concerns over cracks in US funding for Ukraine, after provisions for Kyiv were left out of a bill to avoid a US government shutdown.
Borrell said the EU was discussing assistance to Ukraine with its US allies and friends, and expressed hope that the US decision would be reconsidered.
The meeting in Kyiv also coincided with the victory of a pro-Russian populist party in Slovakia, an EU and NATO member, raising questions about the unity of the Western alliance on Ukraine.