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EU’s top diplomat urges US to reconsider dropping Ukrainian aid from budget bill

Josep Borrell said European officials were surprised by the last-minute agreement in Washington and pledged the bloc would carry on helping Ukraine.

A person reacts during the All-National minute of silence in commemoration of Ukrainian soldiers killed in the country’s war against Russia

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has called on US lawmakers to reconsider their decision to omit financial support for Ukraine from a stop-gap budget bill Congress passed to halt a federal government shutdown.

The legislation approved on Saturday to keep the federal government running until November 17 dropped provisions on providing additional aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of Republican lawmakers.

Speaking in Kyiv after meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said European officials were surprised by the last-minute agreement in Washington and pledged the 27-nation bloc would carry on helping the invaded country defeat Russia.

“I have hope that this will not be a definitive decision and Ukraine will continue having the support of the US”, Mr Borrell said.

“We are facing an existential threat. Ukrainians are fighting with all their courage and capacities, and if we want them to be successful, then you have to provide them with better arms, and quicker,” the Spanish diplomat added.

Ukrainian officials stressed that US backing for Ukraine would continue despite the stop-gap legislation.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said America’s relationship with Ukraine had not changed and that Ukrainian officials met regularly with representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell was speaking in Kyiv after meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

“All of Ukraine’s key partners are determined to support our country until its victory in this war,” he wrote on Telegram.

But the omission of additional Ukrainian aid from the package has raised concerns in Kyiv, which relies heavily on western financial aid and military equipment in its fight against Russia’s ongoing invasion.

A little more than a week ago, lawmakers met in the Capitol with Mr Zelensky, who sought to assure them his military was winning the war but stressed that additional aid would be crucial for continuing the fight.

Yet recent voting in the House has pointed to increased US isolationism and a growing resistance to providing further aid as the war, now in its 20th month, grinds on.

In a sign of a partisan divide on the issue, nearly half of House Republicans voted to strip 300 million US dollars (£246 million) from a defence-spending bill to train Ukrainian soldiers and purchase weapons. The money was later approved separately, but opponents of Ukraine support celebrated their growing numbers.

Writing on Telegram, Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko said on Sunday that Kyiv needed to adopt new measures to receive the continued support of both American officials and the general public. Without it, Mr Goncharenko said, Ukrainians had “practically no chance” of defending themselves.

He set forward a list of proposals that included permanently posting Ukrainian delegates in Washington.

“We need to speak the language of money with the US: How will the United States benefit from Ukraine’s victory? What will the US get? What will American taxpayers get?” Mr Goncharenko wrote.

“We need to change strategy. We need to act differently. Let’s fix this situation. We cannot lose.”

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