European leaders agreed on aid for Ukraine

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban seems to be have been convinced not to oppose anymore.

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The 27 EU member states have agreed on the multiannual aid of 50 billion euros for Ukraine, announced the president of the European Council, Charles Michel. It is not clear at this point how Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who blocked the package at the December meeting and is threatening to do so again, was persuaded to waive his veto. An EU diplomat stated that funds for Hungary remain frozen. Ukraine immediately welcomed the EU’s “contribution” to a “joint victory” against Russia.

Charles Michel’s post came less than ten minutes after his spokeswoman announced that the summit had officially begun.

At the same time, not long before the European Council president’s announcement, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff accused most member states of trying to “blackmail” Hungary in Brussels to approve the €50 billion package for Ukraine.

“The prime minister is holding continuous talks at the EU summit, we continue to strive to reach an agreement taking into account national interests, but it is not certain that this will happen,” Gergely Gulyas told a news conference.

However, before the official start of the summit on Thursday morning, negotiations took place with Viktor Orban, attended by Charles Michel, EC chief Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and EP President Roberta Metsola.

A European diplomat told Reuters that funds for Hungary that are “frozen” remain in the same state. Before the summit in December in which the acceptance of Ukraine’s EU candidacy was approved, 10 billion euros were unlocked for Hungary.

EU funds for Hungary will remain frozen regardless of the aid deal for Ukraine that member states have agreed, the diplomat said shortly after the deal was announced. He specified that Hungary will still have to fulfill its obligations to be eligible to receive European funds.

The EU deal on aid to Ukraine includes an annual discussion of the package and the option to review it in two years “if necessary”, two European diplomats told Reuters on Thursday.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal welcomed the EU’s decision to approve an additional aid package of 50 billion euros for Ukraine. “The EU member states once again show their solidarity and unity in the actions taken in favor of the Ukrainian people to resist the war,” he posted on the X social media platform.

Kyiv expects to receive the first tranche of 4.5 billion euros from the approved EU facility in March, Ukraine’s economy minister said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful for the decision taken and stressed that “it is very important that the decision was taken by all 27 leaders, which once again proves the strong unity of the EU. 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.”

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