The European Union signed off on another massive aid package to Ukraine after Hungarian leader Viktor Orban retreated from his strident objections to more funding.
The deal cleared the way for $54 billion in additional funds to Kyiv for their fight against Russian forces. Orban had insisted on yearly confirmation votes and greater controls of the tens of billions flowing into the notoriously corrupt nation.
It is believed that Hungary would be subject to group punishment if he did not relent.
The BBC reported that Ukraine will receive the first payments as soon as March from the E.U. The funding will cover “pensions and salaries and other costs over the next four years.”
The new agreement was necessary due to the E.U. already being nearly depleted of funding set aside to run from 2021 through 2027. The rapid expenditures were blamed on COVID-19 and the Ukraine war.
Hungary had stood strong against more funding for Kyiv, and in the E.U. it only takes one state to veto the will of all others. The structure is designed to prevent smaller nations from being overwhelmed by the might of the more powerful members.
🚨 BREAKING: Ukraine has secured EU aid as Hungary's Viktor Orbán folded.https://t.co/sLL2CUhQ4G
— POLITICOEurope (@POLITICOEurope) February 1, 2024
Orban told the media that the deal as approved included a “control mechanism” that ensured Budapest would not fund the Ukraine war.
He argued that it was not in European interests to extend the war between Russia and Ukraine. And with the current budget crunch, it was also inadvisable to commit tens of billions of dollars to the protracted conflict.
Orban sought to have the funding approved yearly to allow for more oversight.
Other state leaders countered that such a move would give Hungary a chance every year to stall the process with new demands. Brussels and Budapest are regularly in conflict with one another.
As for Kyiv, Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko declared Thursday that aid from the E.U. as well as the U.S. is “critically important.” This funding, the economic minister told Reuters, would “maintain macroeconomic stability.”
She said it is a “prerequisite for economic growth” in a time of war. Svyrydenko indicated she expected the U.S. to go along with the E.U. and approve more aid for Ukraine.