© Reuters. A view shows residential buildings heavily damaged by continuous Russian military attacks in the frontline town of Avdiivka during the Russian attack on Ukraine in Donetsk region, Ukraine, November 8, 2023. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via
By Andrew Gray
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A European Union plan to spend up to 20 billion euros ($21.4 billion) on military aid to Ukraine is facing opposition from EU countries and may not survive in its current form, they say Diplomats.
Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, suggested in July that the bloc should set up a fund of up to five billion euros a year over four years as part of broader Western security commitments to help Ukraine fight the to support Russian invasion.
But as EU defense ministers prepare to discuss the plan in Brussels on Tuesday, diplomats say several countries – including EU heavyweight Germany – have expressed reservations about pledging such large sums years in advance.
According to the bloc’s diplomatic service, the EU and its members have been among the largest donors of military aid to Ukraine since Russia began its invasion in February 2022, providing weapons and equipment worth around 25 billion euros.
Borrell’s proposal was an attempt to put support on a longer-term basis by creating a pot of money for Ukraine aid within a larger fund, the European Peace Facility, designed to reimburse EU members for military aid to other countries.
“I’m not going to declare it dead at this point. But of course improvements can always be made,” a senior EU diplomat said on Friday on condition of anonymity.
“Germany had a lot of questions… and rightly so. We’re talking about a lot of money.”
The debate over military aid comes as EU states are also discussing a proposal to give Ukraine 50 billion euros in economic aid.
The EU also faces challenges in other aspects of its military aid to Ukraine.
Many officials and diplomats say the bloc will struggle to meet its goal of supplying Kiev with one million artillery shells and rockets by March next year.
And Hungary has been holding back payments of 500 million euros from the Peace Facility to EU member states for aid to Ukraine for months because Ukraine has blacklisted the Hungarian bank OTP.
Since the bank was removed from the blacklist, Hungary has insisted it is demanding guarantees that it will not return there.
EU governments have stressed that long-term EU military aid must be coordinated with security packages that individual EU countries negotiate with Kiev, making it difficult to agree on a price during ongoing talks.
At an EU summit last month, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that the focus should initially be on such bilateral packages.
Some EU members have also argued that they will find it difficult to make a large long-term commitment because of tight domestic budgets.
“For some member states there is the reality of public finances,” said a second EU diplomat.
A third EU diplomat said the likelihood of Borrell’s initial proposal being adopted was decreasing, but that many countries still wanted a commitment at EU level.
Three diplomats suggested that the EU may end up choosing to meet its commitments year after year rather than committing to a larger amount over four years.
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