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European Union diplomats meet in Kiev to support Ukraine
European Union foreign ministers gathered in the Ukrainian capital on Monday in an unannounced meeting to discuss their support for Ukraine and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's so-called "peace formula". The meeting in Kiev is being held as Western allies, who are also Ukraine's biggest supporters in its fight against Russian aggression, have shown the first wavering about the billions of dollars in aid their countries are providing to Ukraine.
Top European diplomats gathered in Kiev on Monday to show their support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia's aggression, as the first political rifts in Europe and America over the 19-month war have already emerged. The head of the European Union's foreign policy, Joseph Borrell, said that this first joint meeting of European diplomats outside the bloc's borders proves their "unwavering" support and underlines the EU's commitment to Ukraine.
"This war has consequences for the whole world. But for us Europeans, it is an existential threat. It may not be seen as such by other parts of the world, but to us it is. Let me repeat that – it's an existential threat. That's why we need to support it and discuss it with our American allies and our friends, so that they continue to support it," declared Mr. Borrell.
A similar sentiment was conveyed by the German foreign minister, Anna Baerbock.
"We brought the European Union to where the heart of Europe beats strongest at the moment - here in Kiev, in Ukraine. Ukraine's future is in the European Union, in our community of freedom, and soon this community will stretch from Lisbon to Luhansk. With every village, every palm that Ukraine frees, in every meter, where it saves its people, Ukraine is paving its way to the European Union,” she said.
The United States, the EU, and Great Britain have provided major financial and military support to Ukraine, enabling it to withstand the Russian onslaught. This aid is essential to Ukraine's weakened economy and has so far been unconditional. But the first fluctuations have already begun to appear as to how long Kiev's allies can continue to send billions of dollars in aid.
"This is a historic event because for the first time, the Council of Foreign Ministers meets outside the borders of the European Union, but within the future borders of the European Union. It is a message of support, for which we are extremely grateful," declared the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytri Kuleba. US President Joe Biden on Sunday assured allies that the United States will continue to provide financial support after the US Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term budget that did not include aid to Ukraine.
Many US lawmakers acknowledge that it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure support in Congress for aid to Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba told reporters that Ukraine has discussed with bipartisan representatives in the US Congress to ensure the continuation of aid.
"We have very deep discussions with Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and despite the decision that was made under pressure to shut down the government in the United States, we are working with both parties to make sure that this does not happen again. We do not feel that American support has weakened, because the United States understands that there is a battle going on in Ukraine that goes beyond Ukraine. It is about the stability and predictability of the world," added Mr. Kuleba.
The meeting in Kiev is being held after the weekend victory of pro-Russian politician Robert Fico's party in Slovakia. His victory has fueled concerns about the EU's continued support for Ukraine. Like Hungary, a member state that continues to maintain close relations with Moscow, Slovakia's approach could cause tensions within the EU over Ukraine. The main railway through which the West supplies Ukraine with military equipment passes through Slovakia.
The Hungarian and Polish ministers were not present at the meeting in Kiev, although it is not unusual for top diplomats not to attend such meetings. Ukraine is committed to becoming a member of the European Union and EU members have encouraged such a possibility, although with the ongoing war Ukraine's road ahead remains long. According to the foreign minister of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Western allies are facing a critical turning point.
"If very serious political steps are not taken, doubts may arise whether we are really with Ukraine until victory, as we say. Many messages have been sent from Brussels and Washington, which have cast doubt on whether we are serious. I hope that this meeting will answer this doubt and send a very clear message that Europe is with Ukraine until victory," he said./VOA