June 19, 2024

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Von der Leyen vows to maintain Ukraine funding

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Ursula von der Leyen pledged to maintain financial aid to Ukraine and backed its EU membership ambitions in an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Saturday aimed at showing support to the country at a time that western diplomatic focus is shifting to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The European commission president’s visit comes at a time of sharp doubts over continued western funding for Kyiv, as the US Congress bickers over financial aid for Ukraine and the EU argues over a budget top-up that has delayed approval of its own €50bn support package.

Uncertainty over long-term financing designed to keep President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government functioning has raised fears of fatigue among its two biggest backers as it wages a more than 20-month long battle against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Von der Leyen’s trip also takes place just days before her commission releases a report assessing Ukraine’s progress towards meeting EU membership milestones, which is expected to encourage member states to agree to start formal accession talks with Kyiv next month.

“I must say, you have made excellent progress, it is impressive to see. We will testify to this when the commission will present its report,” von der Leyen said alongside Zelenskyy after their meeting. “You have reached many milestones . . . This is the result of hard work.”

“And I know that you are in the process of completing outstanding reforms. If this happens, and I am confident, Ukraine can reach its ambitious goal of moving to the next stage of the accession process,” she told reporters.

Zelenskyy said that “it is clear the war in the Middle East takes over the focus of international attention” but that he was confident support for Ukraine would continue.

He also denied media reports that US and EU officials were urging his administration to consider peace talks with…

2023-11-04 08:54:13

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