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EU foreign ministers try to bypass Hungary's veto on military aid to Ukraine

EU foreign affairs ministers met on Monday in Luxembourg.
EU foreign affairs ministers met on Monday in Luxembourg. Copyright European Union, 2024.
Copyright European Union, 2024.
By Jorge Liboreiro
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Brussels will soon collect €1.4 billion from Russia's immobilised assets.

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European Union foreign affairs ministers met on Monday with the urgent task of releasing fresh military assistance to Ukraine, as the country tries to contain a renewed push by Russian troops in the East.

For more than a year, Hungary has blocked provisions of aid under the European Peace Facility (EPF), creating a backlog of €6.6 billion. This prevents member states from being partially reimbursed for the supplies they send to Kyiv.

The protracted gridlock has become a public embarrassment for Brussels, which is now trying to find new ways to bypass Budapest.

The solution might soon be found in the €210 billion in Russian central bank assets that the bloc's sanctions have immobilised. Despite their condition, these assets continue to generate revenues that Moscow is not receiving.

EU countries agreed in March to capture these revenues and channel them directly into Ukraine's coffers to finance military equipment and reconstruction projects.

A first tranche of €1.4 billion will become available next week and must be swiftly transferred, said Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief.

"We decided to take this money – we are not going to reconsider a decision which has already been taken. Now, we have to implement this decision," Borrell said on Monday.

"I cannot have this money in my pocket, this money is for military support to Ukraine. The decision has to be taken immediately, avoiding any kind of blockage."

Borrell said the ministerial meeting would focus on fine-tuning the "method" to use the money and shield the scheme from national vetoes, as it happened with the EPF.

"Ukraine needs more help - and needs more help now. Now, before the summer," he said. "And I hope that the ministers will support the proposal that we have tabled."

Lithuania's Gabrielius Landsbergis said he was "optimistic" ministers would soon make a decision and release the cash. "If not for EPF, maybe some different form it'll take but I'm sure Ukrainians will receive the money," he said.

Making sure Kyiv receives at least €1.4 billion has become a pressing priority for Brussels. On 1 July, Hungary will take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and will be empowered to set the agenda, pushing forward the topics it favours and downgrading those it opposes.

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