EU support for Ukraine in 2024 up in air

UKRAINIAN President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his end-of-the-year news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. / AP
UKRAINIAN President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his end-of-the-year news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. / AP

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Thursday paid the final tranche of a multibillion-euro support package to Ukraine to help keep its war-ravaged economy afloat this year, leaving the country without a financial lifeline from Europe as of next month.

The EU has sent 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) each month in 2023 to ensure macroeconomic stability and rebuild critical infrastructure destroyed in the war. It’s also helping to pay wages and pensions, keep hospitals and schools running, and provide shelter for people forced from their homes.

To ensure that Ukraine has predictable, longer-term income, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, proposed to provide the country with 50 billion euros ($55 billion.) At a summit last week, 26 of the 27 nation bloc’s leaders endorsed the plan, but Hungary imposed a veto.

The decision came as a major blow to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky, days after he had failed to persuade U.S. lawmakers to approve an additional $61 billion for his war effort.

Hungary’s nationalist leader, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is widely considered to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally in the EU. Critics accuse him of putting Moscow’s interests ahead of those of his EU and NATO allies.

Orban has called for an immediate end to the fighting, which has ground on for almost two years, and pushed for peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

The EU has provided almost 85 billion euros ($93 billion), including in financial, humanitarian, emergency budget and military support, to Ukraine since Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

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