GRANADA, Spain — Top EU officials have a message for Washington after Republican lawmakers blocked a new aid package for Ukraine: We need you to help Kyiv hold its own against Russia.
Arriving in Granada, Spain, for a gathering of European leaders, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said Europe wouldn’t be able to shoulder the entire burden of foreign support for Ukraine on its own.
“Europe cannot fill the gap of the U.S.,” he told journalists a few days after congressional Republicans refused to approve a stopgap funding measure for Kyiv.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck a similar tone, underscoring that the EU plans to approve €50 billion in support for Ukraine in the coming months but that Washington’s help remains crucial.
“I am very confident in support for Ukraine from the United States,” she said, adding that what remained unclear was the timing of when the support would arrive. Charles Michel, the European Council boss, echoed the point saying he had heard U.S. President Joe Biden’s “personal commitment” to continuing support for Kyiv.
Nearly 600 days into its battle to fight off Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine faces a funding crunch due to delays in planned aid from the U.S. and amid uncertainty about when exactly Europe’s next big package of aid will be delivered.
Several diplomats have indicated to POLITICO in recent days that political support for approving the €50 billion in aid is strong and widespread, but that Hungary could seek to delay final approval as it wants to pressure Brussels to release its own EU funding, held up over a rule-of-law dispute. Any delay could expose Kyiv to a 2024 budget shortfall — a situation which is causing anxiety in Ukraine.
Asked if he was worried about a funding shortfall, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “We finished worrying the first days of the full-scale war.”
He added: “With the United States I had a meeting with President Biden [and received] his 100 percent support … Of course, it’s a difficult election period for [the] States.”
Biden and von der Leyen have rushed to reassure Kyiv that Western support remains unwavering and that aid will flow once again, but growing opposition from Republicans has raised the possibility that Europe could end up having to shoulder a much larger share of the burden.
On her way into the European Political Community meeting in Granada — attended by dozens of heads of state and government — Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas warned that any perception that Western resolve is weakening would play into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia wants us to be tired,” she said. “We shouldn’t show them that we are because we have to endure as long as it takes. We have to endure the war as they [the Ukrainians] are enduring the war.”