EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU foreign ministers agreed during a meeting in Brussels on January 22 that now is not the time to reduce aid to Ukraine.
“On the contrary, we need to do more and faster…regarding financial resources, military equipment, military training, and all of Ukraine’s defense needs. We will continue to work on the projected aid,” Borrell told a news conference after the meeting.
He also announced plans to visit Ukraine in the second week of February but did not specify the date of his trip or with whom he plans to meet.
The agenda of the EU’s 27 foreign ministers’ first meeting of the year included the battles in Ukraine and the Middle East.
Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s full-scale invasion remains a priority for the European Union, Borrell said before the meeting, adding that conflicts in the Middle East will not distract the bloc.
Ukraine “is the first item on the agenda,” Borrell told reporters ahead of the meeting. “The fact that we are engaged in looking for a solution in the Middle East does not mean that we are not continuing supporting Ukraine.”
Ukraine is counting on quick steps in the first half of 2024 regarding the opening of negotiations on its bid to join the EU, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. He also called on the bloc to increase the supply of weapons and approve a long-term support program for Kyiv .
The war between Israel and Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the EU, has been a focus for Brussels since the conflict broke out after Hamas extremists launched a cross-border attack on October 7, killing just over 1,100 Israelis, mainly civilians.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki were scheduled to make separate appearances at the EU meeting on January 22.
While the EU says Ukraine is a priority, some members have made statements in recent months questioning whether such staunch support should continue.
Ahead of the meeting in Belgium, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto criticized the “pro-war party in Brussels” for seeking to supply $5 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said on January 22 that he will tell his Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv later this week that his country plans to veto Ukraine joining NATO because its membership would mean “nothing other than a basis for World War III.”
Slovakia, which has been a member of NATO since 2004, was long one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters in its defense against Russia’s full-scale invasion. But when Fico’s left-wing nationalist government took power in October, the country, which shares a border with Ukraine, decided to no longer supply Kyiv with weapons./RFE/