The foreign ministers of the European Union met on Monday in Kiev for a “historic meeting” aimed at drawing the lines of “sustainable support” for Ukraine, faced with the Russian invasion and which aims to integrate the EU.
Faced with a slow Ukrainian counter-offensive and fears of a decline in Western support for Ukraine, it is also a question of showing Russia that it “does not must not count” on the “weariness” of the European Union, explained French Minister Catherine Colonna.
The head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba also estimated that “(Vladimir) Putin’s greatest hope is precisely that the West and the world will tire of siding with Ukraine in this war.” “Russia is devoting a lot of resources to it,” he assured.
A few hours earlier, the Kremlin had said it was convinced that “weariness” would “increase in different countries.” .
The head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell welcomed, on the social network “.
Mr. Borrell, however, clarified that it was an “informal” meeting which “is not intended to reach concrete conclusions and decisions.”
Speaking before the 24 ministers – those from Poland, Hungary and Latvia being absent for various reasons – President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine's victory “directly depends” on cooperation between Kiev and his Western allies.
“I am sure that Ukraine and the entire free world are capable of winning in this confrontation” with Russia, he said, asking the Europeans in particular for new sanctions against Iran, which supplies drones to Moscow, and to authorize the transfer of frozen Russian assets to finance reconstruction.
Receiving his counterparts, Dmytro Kouleba welcomed the meeting being held in Kiev, “within the future borders of the European Union”, according to him.
Ukraine has been aiming for years to join the EU and was granted candidate status for membership in June 2022, but to move to the next stage, Kiev still needs to make progress, particularly in the fight against corruption.
< p>Monday's meeting in Kiev is an “exceptional diplomatic gesture”, underlined French Minister Catherine Colonna, who explained that the EU wants to demonstrate its “resolute” and “lasting” support for Ukraine “until that it can prevail” against Moscow.
It is a question of showing “that Ukraine is part of the European family” and of “also giving Russia the message that it must not count on our weariness,” stressed Ms. Colonna. “We will be here for a long time,” she promised.
The German Minister, Annalena Baerbock, requested the establishment of a “winter protection plan” to enable Ukraine to cope with the bombing of its energy infrastructure, as during last year.
This meeting is being held at a time when fears are emerging about the sustainability of Western support for Ukraine, which depends on arms deliveries and financial aid from Europeans and the United States.
In Washington, an emergency agreement concluded by the Senate this weekend to avoid a paralysis of the federal administration left out of the budget aid to Ukraine, which will have to be the subject of a draft separate law.
US President Joe Biden then promised that the United States would “not abandon” Ukraine, and Kiev announced it was “working” with its main military and financial backer to ensure that this situation “does not prevent the flow of aid.”
If the Kremlin estimated on Monday that Washington “will continue to get involved in this conflict”, it said it expected that “weariness of completely absurd support for the Kiev regime will increase in different countries”.
In Europe, Slovakia brought to the top of the legislative elections on Saturday a populist party which opposes continued aid to Ukraine. Kiev soberly said on Monday “to respect the choice of the Slovak people” and judged that it was too early to predict the consequences.
Moreover, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs – whose country has remained the most close to Moscow in the EU – as well as his Polish and Latvian colleagues did not attend the meeting in Kiev, a senior Ukrainian government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Polish and Latvian diplomats are ill, he added.
Another source of aid for Ukraine, a mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the first in three years, is is in Kiev to discuss a $15.6 billion program, Prime Minister Denys Chmygal announced.