EU Offers Ukraine Membership Negotiations but Withholds Additional Aid; US Aid Request Also Unmet

by Andrew Wright
Ukraine EU Membership Negotiations

In a significant development, the European Union has agreed to commence accession talks with Ukraine, a war-afflicted nation. However, this comes without the approval of a much-needed financial support package of 50 billion euros (approximately $54 billion), crucial for Ukraine’s economic stability.

The financial assistance was blocked by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, complicating matters for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This follows Zelenskyy’s unsuccessful attempt to secure an additional $61 billion from the U.S. Congress, primarily for purchasing American weapons.

Despite the setback, the initiation of EU membership negotiations marks a remarkable turnaround for Ukraine, which has long faced staunch resistance from Orban and struggled to gain support for its membership bid.

Orban chose not to obstruct the membership discussions but vetoed the aid package.

Related Developments

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin remains resolute, stating peace in Ukraine is contingent on Russia achieving its objectives.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden is contemplating new border and asylum policies while seeking a Senate agreement for Ukrainian aid.
  • The debate over funding for Ukraine is testing the credibility of the United States.

European Council President Charles Michel announced that 26 EU leaders consented to the budget negotiation, with Sweden requiring parliamentary consultation, and Hungary dissenting.

Unanimity is required among EU members for such decisions.

Despite the financial aid impasse, Michel, presiding over the Brussels summit, deemed the commencement of accession talks a significant gesture of hope.

Although Ukraine’s EU membership might be years away, Zelenskyy hailed the decision as a triumph for Ukraine and Europe, emphasizing the importance of perseverance in the fight for freedom.

Hungary’s rejection of the financial aid, including a review of the EU budget, leaves Ukraine in dire need of funds to support its economy in the upcoming year. Michel indicated that discussions would resume in January to resolve this deadlock.

Orban, who had initially threatened to veto the accession talks as well, later changed his stance, citing the strong advocacy by the other 26 nations. An EU official reported that Orban was strategically absent during the decision-making, allowing the accession talks to proceed.

Hungary maintains that Ukraine is not yet prepared for EU membership negotiations, a stance Orban describes as logical and justified.

Other EU leaders, like Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, viewed the membership talks as a symbolic defeat for Putin. De Croo interpreted Orban’s decision as a realization of the indefensibility of his veto.

Simultaneously, the EU also decided to initiate membership negotiations with Moldova.

Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Adviser, commended the EU’s decision, recognizing it as a significant step towards fulfilling the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Ukraine and Moldova.

The announcement was met with cautious optimism in Kyiv, with citizens expressing hope for Ukraine’s integration into Europe.

EU leaders were braced for extended discussions, but the breakthrough came unexpectedly following Orban’s decision not to use his veto.

Michel hailed the moment as historic, underscoring the EU’s credibility and strength. He announced that negotiations would commence before a March report to the leaders.

This development occurs amidst Zelenskyy’s recent unfruitful visit to Washington, where his requests for additional U.S. aid were not met. The urgency for a solution is paralleled by the potential impact on the EU’s credibility, as highlighted by Zelenskyy in a video address to the Brussels leaders.

Report contributors include Vasilisa Stepanenko from Kyiv, Lorne Cook from Brussels, and Justin Spike from Budapest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ukraine EU Membership Negotiations

Has the European Union agreed to begin accession negotiations with Ukraine?

Yes, the European Union has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine, marking a significant step for the war-torn country in its aspirations to join the EU.

Did the European Union approve the financial aid package for Ukraine?

No, the European Union failed to approve a 50 billion-euro financial aid package for Ukraine, which is crucial for its economic stability. The package was vetoed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

What was the outcome of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for additional aid from the U.S.?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s attempt to secure an additional $61 billion in aid from the U.S., mainly for purchasing weapons, was unsuccessful.

Why did Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban veto the EU’s financial aid package for Ukraine?

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vetoed the EU’s financial aid package for Ukraine, citing reasons related to his opposition to Ukraine’s EU membership and the proposed use of the funds.

What does the initiation of EU accession talks mean for Ukraine?

The initiation of EU accession talks is a significant milestone for Ukraine, symbolizing a major step towards becoming a member of the European Union, despite the long journey ahead.

What was the reaction of other EU leaders to Hungary’s veto of the financial aid package?

Other EU leaders expressed disappointment and concern over Hungary’s veto of the financial aid package, emphasizing the need for unity and support for Ukraine during this critical time.

Will there be further discussions regarding the financial aid package for Ukraine?

Yes, EU leaders plan to reconvene in January in an effort to break the deadlock regarding the financial aid package for Ukraine.

More about Ukraine EU Membership Negotiations

  • EU-Ukraine Accession Talks
  • Hungary’s Veto on EU Aid to Ukraine
  • Zelenskyy’s US Aid Request
  • EU Summit on Ukraine Membership
  • European Council President Charles Michel’s Statement
  • Belgian PM on Ukraine’s EU Membership
  • US Reaction to EU’s Decision on Ukraine and Moldova
  • Kyiv’s Response to EU Membership Talks
  • EU’s Credibility and Ukraine Aid Debate

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Tom H December 15, 2023 - 8:35 am

orban always plays hardball, no surprise there. EU needs to stand united tho

Lucy M December 15, 2023 - 3:22 pm

It’s all politics as usual. Hungary’s veto seems more like a power play than anything.

Greg K. December 15, 2023 - 3:25 pm

accession talks are good news but the financial aid was crucial, hope they sort it out in January.

Sarah K December 15, 2023 - 4:00 pm

Its a big step for Ukraine getting into EU talks, but without the money, how will they manage?

AnnaBelle December 15, 2023 - 5:10 pm

really feel for Zelenskyy, goes to US and EU and still struggles to get what Ukraine needs!

Dave Richards December 15, 2023 - 7:02 pm

EU’s decision is historic but what’s the use if they cant agree on aid? Ukraine’s in a tough spot.

Mike Johnson December 16, 2023 - 12:39 am

wow, didnt expect Hungary to block the aid like that, tough times for Ukraine…


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