EU ministers hold meeting in Ukraine in show of support
The meeting comes as a pro-Russian candidate won an election in Slovakia and the US Congress omitted funding for Kyiv from a spending bill
Kyiv — EU foreign ministers held their first meeting outside the bloc in Ukraine on Monday, in a show of support for the country after a pro-Russian candidate won an election in Slovakia and the US Congress omitted funding for Kyiv from a spending bill.
“We are convening a historic meeting of EU foreign ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on X. “We are here to express our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was proud to host the meeting: “For the first time in history, outside current EU borders. But also within its future borders.”
Washington insists its firm military and political support for Ukraine has not wavered, despite Congress having excluded Ukraine funds from an emergency spending deal reached at the weekend to avert a government shutdown.
Though right-wing Republican supporters of former president Donald Trump have increasingly called for funding of Ukraine to be halted, President Joe Biden’s administration says it expects the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a measure to keep the aid flowing.
Biden on Sunday pressed congressional Republicans to back the aid, saying he was “sick and tired” of the political brinkmanship that had nearly closed the government down.
Ukraine’s Kuleba told reporters that Kyiv was still confident of US backing.
“We don’t feel that the US support has been shattered... because the US understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine,” he told reporters as he greeted Borrell.
He said the question was whether what happened in the US Congress at the weekend was “an incident or a system”.
“I think it was an incident,” he said. “We have a very in-depth discussion with both parts of the Congress — Republicans and Democrats.”
In Europe, pro-Russian former prime minister Fico won the most votes in an election in Slovakia on Sunday and will get a first chance to form a government. His campaign had called for “not a single round” of ammunition from Slovakia’s reserves to be sent to Ukraine.
“We are not changing that we are prepared to help Ukraine in a humanitarian way,” Fico said at a news conference after his victory. “We are prepared to help with the reconstruction of the state but you know our opinion on arming Ukraine.”
Slovakia, a Nato state with a small border with Ukraine, has taken in refugees and, under the outgoing government, has provided a disproportionately major supply of weapons, notably being among the first to send fighter jets.
The EU has so far managed to maintain its firm pro-Ukrainian stance despite pressure from Hungary, who nationalist leader Viktor Orban regularly denounces sanctions on Moscow.
To form a government, Fico would have to establish a coalition with at least one other party that does not publicly share his position on Ukraine.
“I think it’s too early to judge how these elections will impact the support of Ukraine,” Ukraine’s foreign minister Kuleba said. “We have to wait until the coalition is formed.”
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