Ukraine Braces for EU Membership, Funding Fight

Ukraine’s future hangs in the balance as Western leaders meet this week to discuss Kyiv’s European Union membership bid and further aid for Ukraine’s war effort.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is warning that Budapest will veto a decision to start accession talks for Ukraine to join the 27-nation bloc, accusing Ukraine of being “one of the most corrupt countries in the world.” A failure to begin these negotiations, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, would have “devastating consequences” for Ukraine, which has sought to join the group since February 2022—just a few days into its war against Russia.

Orban, who has long touted his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has also threatened to block additional EU economic assistance to Ukraine. On Monday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reiterated Orban’s stance by saying Budapest would not give into pressure, even as the EU prepares to release about $10.7 billion in funds to Hungary after it successfully argued that Budapest had made substantial democratic reforms to its judicial system. All 27 EU leaders are set to meet on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to visit Washington on Tuesday to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and members of Congress. Talks will center on securing greater aid for Ukraine after Republicans blocked an emergency spending package last week that would have given Kyiv $61.4 billion in assistance, with high-ranking conservatives arguing that Biden must first address growing domestic border troubles before more Ukraine funding is approved.

As of mid-November, the Pentagon had spent 97 percent of previously approved aid for Ukraine, FP’s Robbie Gramer, Amy Mackinnon, and Jack Detsch reported. “Military experts paint a bleak picture of what could happen next if the spigot of U.S. military aid is cut off.”

Zelensky likely hopes that a closed-door session with senators on Tuesday will help break the logjam, but last week’s shouting match between Republican and Democratic lawmakers at a confidential briefing on the Russia-Ukraine war, which saw Zelensky cancel his virtual appearance at the last minute, casts doubt on the likelihood of success. All of this infighting over continued aid has left “a palpable sense of dread” among Ukraine’s biggest Western supporters, Gramer, Mackinnon, and Detsch wrote.

Zelensky met with International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva on Monday to sign off on a $900 million loan to Ukraine. The IMF also discussed Kyiv’s four-year, $15.6 billion Extended Fund Facility program, which was approved in March. Ukraine was required to raise tax revenue and boost anti-corruption efforts to qualify, and it now must ensure macroeconomic stability and continue postwar reconstruction to remain eligible.



Foreign Policy Ukraine EU Membership Funding Fight

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