EU must give Ukraine what it needs to be ‘strong’: von der Leyen


EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday urged the bloc’s 27 leaders to back massive financial aid for Ukraine and Kyiv’s ambitions for membership talks, ahead of a crunch summit.

“We must give Ukraine what it needs to be strong today. So it can be stronger tomorrow at the table when it is negotiating a long lasting and just peace,” the European Commission president told MEPs.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Thursday.

They face a major challenge overcoming opposition from Hungary — Russia’s closest ally in the bloc — to fresh support for Kyiv almost two years after Russia’s all-out invasion.

Von der Leyen has recommended opening formal talks with Ukraine on joining the 27 nation bloc and there is a push to give Kyiv 50 billion euros ($54 billion) in financial aid over the next four years.

The debate over future EU support comes as backing from Kyiv’s key ally the United States has been plunged into doubt by Republican opponents of President Joe Biden.

“As the war drags on, we must prove what it means to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Von der Leyen said.

“Ukraine is not only fighting against the invader, but for Europe, and joining our family will be Ukraine’s ultimate victory. And for this, we have a decisive role to play.”

In a bid to overcome the objections of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, von der Leyen’s commission is expected to unlock 10 billion euros in EU funding Budapest on Wednesday.

The potential move has sparked accusations Brussels is backing down in its standoff over rule of law with Orban, but it is far from clear that the gesture will avert a dispute between leaders at the summit.

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