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EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell visits Ukraine after bloc approves $54B in aid
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell visits Ukraine after bloc approves $54B in aid
by A.L. Lee
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 6, 2024

European Union Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell traveled to Kyiv Tuesday after the 27-nation bloc approved a new $54 billion aid package to help Ukraine continue to fight Russia.

Borrell's fourth visit to Ukraine was intended to showcase the EU's commitment to support Kyiv, which was struggling to hold ground in the nearly two-year conflict as billions of dollars in previous foreign aid dried up in recent weeks.

"Here to discuss with our Ukrainian friends the EU's unwavering support to Ukraine -- on military side, on the financial side with the new Ukraine facility, as well as on the EU reform path," Borrell said after arriving in Kyiv from Poland.

The EU aid package will be distributed over four years after the bloc unanimously approved the funds as part of its 2024 budget.

The multi-billion dollar package will flow to Ukraine through 2027, with $35 billion allocated in the form of loan guarantees, and another $18 billion in "non-repayable support," the bloc announced previously.

Notably, the aid package from the EU did not deliver on a preliminary plan to send 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March, while the bloc considered reforms to its defense funding policies as aid was now substantially diminished.

Elsewhere, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave a speech Tuesday before the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, where she pledged unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as the war continues.

"We must keep up our momentum to support Ukraine and to protect our own future," she said. "That means thinking about reconstruction, about security commitments, about strengthening the international system to avoid any repeats or reruns."

Von der Leyen expressed optimism about Ukraine's future and its path toward membership in the EU, highlighted by domestic reforms that align with EU policies.

She emphasized: "Ukraine is Europe, because Europe is in the hearts and minds of Ukrainians. And soon enough, Ukraine will also be in our Union."

Von der Leyen reiterated the EU's commitment on the platform X, saying "Europe will be at Ukraine's side for every single day of the war. And for every single day thereafter. This is what it means to be European."

Previously, U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed that withdrawing support for Ukraine would deliver a major victory to Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing that Russia would seek to expand its empire into a broader swath of Europe if Ukraine is defeated.

An additional $60 billion in funds from the United States is still on hold due to a budget standoff in Congress as Republican lawmakers seek to link funding for Ukraine to contentious measures that seek to address the U.S. border crisis.

Von der Leyen, meanwhile, said the war is an example of people fighting for a cause they believed in, noting that Europe shares a common goal with Ukraine's quest for self-determination.

She also said Putin severely underestimated the Ukrainian people's desire for freedom and their remarkable resilience that has enabled the country to withstand a formidable invasion for 24 months.

The speech also underscored the importance of international support for Ukraine, while praising the unity of the EU and NATO in standing with Ukraine, as well as ongoing support for its defense and reconstruction.

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