BRUSSELS — As EU leaders prepare to make historic decisions on Ukraine, Kyiv’s foreign minister urged the bloc not to wait until a decision on military and humanitarian aid comes from the United States, where support for Ukraine is wobbling.
“Europe provides a lot of support and has the capacity to continue providing it,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told POLITICO during an interview in Brussels on Tuesday. “But this psychological kind of dependence on the position of the United States is also an element of the game.”
While support from the U.S. is a vital lifeline for Ukraine, Kuleba urged Europe not to underestimate itself, referencing the Continent’s tendency to “watch closely” what happens in the U.S. when making decisions.
In a last-minute effort to secure the support of lawmakers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Washington this week as $60 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine are stuck in Congress, where Republican disagreements over U.S. border policy have kept the legislation from advancing.
EU leaders on Thursday and Friday are set to decide on a plan to begin Ukraine accession talks to the EU and the release of €50 billion in aid for Kyiv. Increasingly, some EU officials fear the lack of any historic decisions because of objections from Hungary, mounting talk of war fatigue and frustration at Kyiv’s stalemate on the battlefield.
To Kuleba, losing momentum and failing to show unity across the EU in support of enlargement would have “devastating strategic consequences” for the bloc. It would tell the rest of the world that something is wrong within the EU, sending a message of division at a time when “consistency and sustainability” are needed.
“Russia and other actors are watching this process closely because they need a weak European Union,” he said. “So they are interested in slowdowns, in delays, in the demonstration of inability to make historic decisions.”
Kuleba dismissed concerns of war fatigue, adding that there is no viable alternative for Ukraine, nor the EU, to fighting.
“The next country that Russia may attack will be a European country, it will not be somewhere else,” he said. “So Europe has to be more self confident in its capacity to defend itself.”
“If one side blinks it will be a very bad moment for that side,” he added. “And it’s not us who has to blink, we have to make Russia blink.”