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Hungary blocks EU military aid to Ukraine, Borrell says

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has revealed that Hungary is the only member state that is blocking the release of €500 million in military aid to Ukraine, amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Borrell made the announcement on Thursday, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Toledo, Spain, where they discussed the situation in Ukraine and the bloc’s response to Russia’s aggression.

According to Borrell, Hungary is opposing the disbursement of the eighth tranche of the European Peace Facility (EPF), a fund that was established in March 2021 to provide weapons and ammunition to countries under attack, such as Ukraine.

 

Borrell said he hoped that the issue would be resolved in the next few weeks, but did not specify the reasons behind Hungary’s objection. However, media reports have suggested that Budapest is unhappy with Kiev’s decision to designate a major Hungarian bank as a ‘war sponsor’, as well as with Ukraine’s language and education policies that affect the Hungarian minority in the country.

Borrell also said that he had proposed to the European Commission to create a new Ukraine Assistance Fund, which would provide €5 billion annually to support Ukraine’s economic and social development, as well as its defense and security sector reform.

He said he expected the Commission to reach an agreement on the proposal by the end of the year, and stressed that the EU would stand by Ukraine “today, tomorrow and always” in a “predictable and sustainable” manner.

The EU has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia and its allies for their role in the invasion of Ukraine, which began in 2014 and has claimed over 14,000 lives. The bloc has also provided more than €450 million in military aid to Ukraine since 2021, as well as €15 billion in financial assistance since 2014.

However, some EU leaders and officials have expressed frustration with the slow pace and limited scope of the bloc’s actions, especially after Russia launched a full-scale offensive against Ukraine in January 2023, capturing several strategic cities and towns.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeatedly called on the EU to do more for his country, such as granting it a clear perspective of membership, providing more military equipment and training, and imposing tougher sanctions on Russia.

On Thursday, Zelenskiy said in a video statement that “the European Union should do more, it must do more for us, for Ukraine.”

“The decisions of politicians must coincide with the mood of their people,” he added.

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