Meeting Outside The Bloc, E.U. Ministers Extend Support After The Pro-Russian Election In Slovakia, And Omission Of Ukraine War Aid U.S. Congressional Spending Bill.
Kyiv, Ukraine, October 3, 2023: In a historic first, European Union foreign ministers convened in Kyiv on Monday, demonstrating unwavering solidarity with Ukraine amid recent geopolitical shifts. This gathering took place amid concerns over a pro-Russian election victory in Slovakia and the absence of Ukraine war aid in the U.S. Congressional spending bill.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, emphasized that the United States' support for Ukraine remained steadfast despite challenges. Kuleba stated, "We don't feel that U.S. support has been shattered... because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much larger than just Ukraine."
The election victory of pro-Russian former Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico raised eyebrows. However, Kuleba asserted it was "too early to judge" its impact on politics in Slovakia, as a new leader would still need to form a coalition.
Nevertheless, the timing of the meeting posed a challenge as Ukraine's military counter-offensive had not met the expectations of Western leaders, who had hoped for significant progress before the arrival of autumn. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy underlined the importance of cooperation with Western allies, emphasizing that victory depended on it.
E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed a substantial E.U. spending package of up to 5 billion euros ($5.25 billion) for Ukraine in 2024, reflecting the E.U.'s continued commitment to support Ukraine. Kuleba is highlighting the importance of clarifying the transfer of frozen Russian assets in the West to aid Ukraine's reconstruction efforts, a sentiment echoed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who urged preparations to ensure Ukraine's resilience during the upcoming winter.
The Kremlin viewed the omission of Ukraine aid in the U.S. Congressional bill as a sign of increasing division in the West but expressed confidence in Washington's continued support for Kyiv. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated, "America will continue its direct involvement in this conflict."
As elections loom in several Western countries, including the United States, the issue of Ukraine’s aid has become politically charged. Proponents of Ukraine aid face opposition from high-profile right-wing figures within Congress, posing a challenge for President Joe Biden's administration. Kuleba expressed confidence that discussions with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers would ensure the continuity of aid.
In Europe, the election victory of pro-Russian Robert Fico in Slovakia raised concerns. Fico, who advocates against arming Ukraine, faces forming a government. Slovakia, a NATO member, has previously supplied weapons to Ukraine. Russia's Peskov defended Fico, stating it was "absurd" to label politicians supporting their country's national interest as "pro-Russian."
Despite these challenges, the E.U.'s historic meeting in Kyiv underscores the enduring commitment of Western nations to support Ukraine in its pursuit of stability and sovereignty. The meeting concluded with renewed assurances of unity and cooperation between Ukraine and its Western allies.
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