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EU aid for Ukraine's war effort against Russia blocked by Hungary, but Kyiv's EU membership bid advances

EU open to membership talks with Ukraine
European Union open to membership talks with Ukraine 04:40

Hungary's far-right government blocked 50 billion euros — the equivalent of about $55 billion — in aid funding for Ukraine late Thursday. It was another blow for Ukraine's war effort, as it battles to retake land seized by invading Russian forces, just days after President Volodymr Zelenskyy failed to convince American politicians to release billions of dollars in aid with a trip to Washington.

Hungary blocked the tranche of European Union funding shortly after an agreement was reached by the bloc to begin talks on Ukraine's long-held request for EU membership.

Viktor Orban PM Of Hungary At The European Council Summit
Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban is seen at the European Council summit with EU leaders, Dec. 14, 2023 Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty

Fears have mounted in Ukraine that, without continued funding and more weaponry from its partners in the West, Russia could gain an advantage following a Ukrainian summer counteroffensive that failed to achieve major gains. A $61 billion dollar aid package from the U.S. has been delayed due to political disagreements in Washington, with Republicans demanding new border security measures and immigration policy changes in exchange for granting the funding.

"We still have some time, Ukraine is not out of money in the next few weeks," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in response to Hungary blocking the EU's aid package. "I am fairly confident we can get a deal early next year. We are thinking of late January."

Far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has close ties with Russia and has long opposed Ukraine becoming a member of the EU, as does Moscow. Orban left the negotiating room momentarily for the EU membership vote, according to CBS News partner network BBC News, which said the move was pre-arranged.

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on the sidelines of the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, Oct. 17, 2023. GRIGORY SYSOYEV/POOL/AFP/Getty

Ukraine formally applied to join the EU shortly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 24, 2022.

"This is a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires and strengthens," Zelenskyy said on social media in response to the EU's vote.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called it a "crucial step toward fulfilling their Euro-Atlantic aspirations."

Orban later said on Hungarian state radio that he'd fought for hours to stop other EU members from voting to begin talks on Ukraine's membership bid, but said the path for Ukraine would be very long, and Hungary could still top it if it wanted to.

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