EU Pledges Lasting Support At 'Historic' Kiev Meeting As America Steps Back

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Oct 02, 2023 - 04:40 PM

After President Joe Biden over the weekend signed a stopgap funding bill that did not include aid for Ukraine, given Congressional Republicans are blocking it, European leaders have vowed Monday to commit to lasting support for Kiev.

EU foreign ministers are taking part in a "historic" meeting in the Ukrainian capital, even as the war grinds on into its 20th month. "We are convening in a historic meeting of the EU foreign ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU," the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced. He said it is to "express our solidarity and support to the Ukrainian people," but also cautioned that the meeting "does not have the aim of reaching concrete conclusions and decisions."

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised the EU at a moment of simultaneous disappointment with Washington as billions in US aid hangs in the balance. "For the first time ever the foreign affairs council is going to sit down outside of its current borders — outside the borders of the European Union — but within future borders of the European Union," Kuleba said in a press briefing alongside Borrell.

France's foreign minister Catherine Colonna framed the meeting as intending to signal Moscow that Europe is ready to stand by Ukraine for the long term, even as US support is set to wane or possibly be halted altogether for the first time. "It is a demonstration of our resolute and lasting support for Ukraine, until it can win," she said in a press statement.

"It is also a message to Russia that it should not count on our fatigue. We will be there for a long time to come." Colonna said this at a moment the Kremlin is celebrating the clear 'war fatigue' out of Washington. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said from Moscow the same day that in the West, "Fatigue will lead to the fragmentation of the political establishment," 

Days ago, CNBC wrote that "Ukraine is trying to keep its international backers close as the spillover effects of the war with Russia — as well as the thorny issues of diplomatic gaffes, conflict fatigue and elections — threaten to upset its alliances and damage support for its cause."

"Opinion polls in both Europe and the U.S. carried out this summer show there has been an overall decline in support for measures backing Ukraine, particularly when it comes to additional funding and the supply of military equipment," the report underscored.

At Monday's Kiev gathering of EU foreign ministers, Germany's FM Annalena Baerbock said Europe must be ready to increase its support to protect the Ukrainian people ahead of the cold winter months. She called for a "winter protection plan"...

"Ukraine needs a winter protection plan of air defense, generators and a strengthening of the energy supply," she said in Kyiv, as quoted in AFP. "We saw last winter the brutal way in which the Russian president wages this war, with targeted attacks on critical infrastructure such as power plants."

"With every village, every meter that Ukraine liberates, with every meter where it is saving its people's lives, it also paves its way into the European Union," Baerbock said additionally.

Still, as The Wall Street Journal says in a fresh report, America's "step back" has sent "shockwaves" across the Atlantic:

The U.S. decision sent shock waves across the Atlantic. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Sunday that his country would fight on to victory, saying there is no "expiration date" for its willingness to resist Russia. 

On Monday, in a show of solidarity with Kyiv, European foreign ministers held a meeting in Ukraine with Zelensky and his foreign minister in attendance, a rare gathering outside the bloc for the European officials. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv is working with both parties in Congress to ensure the "incident" over the weekend isn’t repeated.

"We don’t feel that the U.S. support has been shattered," he said on Monday. 

Below: The United States has by far led the way with military support to Kiev; however, the EU has pledged the most overall financial support, also to keep civic institutions and services afloat amid the war...

Notably absent from the EU meeting was Poland, Hungary, and Latvia. "The Polish and Latvian representatives were ill," a Ukrainian government official claimed.

But clearly at least in the cases of Poland and Hungary, tensions with Kiev have been on the rise, particularly over grain imports. Poland has led the way in extending a blockage on all Ukrainian grain in order to protect its own farmers.

"family photo" in Kiev, handout via Reuters

Warsaw also shocked allies last month when it declared no more future arms and funding for Ukraine, amid an intensifying war of words which has also seen Polish officials stress they must look out for their own defense as the number one priority.