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Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán in Brussels

Photo: Yves Herman / REUTERS

A week before the EU summit of heads of state and government, it is becoming apparent that there could be an agreement on further financial aid for Ukraine. According to SPIEGEL information, Hungary announced last Wednesday at a confidential meeting of top diplomats that it would not oppose a new five billion euro pot for 2024.

Budapest will not pay into the so-called “Ukraine Assistance Fund” (UAF), according to the Hungarian emissary’s line at the meeting. Nevertheless, Viktor Orbán's government does not want to actively block the facility.

According to diplomats, this gives rise to hope for an agreement at the special EU summit on February 1st. It became necessary because Orban vetoed an agreement on aid to Ukraine worth 50 billion euros until 2027 at the last regular summit in December.

Since last summer, Orbán has also prevented the disbursement of a further 500 million euros from the so-called European Peace Facility. To date, around 5.5 billion euros in military aid for Ukraine have been paid out of this pot. It should also become the source of money for the new “Ukraine Assistance Funds”.

Orbán is not the only problem

The fact that Orbán is now not resisting the establishment of the pot could indicate that an agreement is possible on February 1st. However, Orbán's attitude is not the only problem. There are also disputes over the details of how further military aid should be financed from the pot.

The Federal Government is demanding that its bilateral aid to Ukraine – by far the largest within the EU – be counted towards its contributions at EU level. Otherwise, it is said from Berlin, the establishment of the new fund cannot be agreed to at this point.

According to diplomats, no EU state was against this idea at the meeting last Wednesday. However, the question arose as to where enough money for the fund would come from.

France, in turn, is said to be the only member state to have demanded that the new pot should be used primarily for joint procurement of military equipment. Most other countries, on the other hand, favored the previous model, according to which states can be compensated for military aid to Ukraine.

However, the French argue that joint procurement would strengthen the European defense industry. Critics from Germany, too, suspect that Paris is primarily referring to the French arms industry.