Huge blow for Putin as ally about to take £13bn fund from EU

Vladimir Putin has been dealt a huge blow in his war against Ukraine after the European Commission said it would release billions of euros to financially assist Ukraine.

The commission said the funds would benefit Hungary in a change which could secure the country’s support for an increase in the EU’s budget which could be spent on supporting Ukraine.

The release of the funds would mark a significant victory for Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban who had vowed not to agree on any increase in the EU’s budget unless Hungary’s access to the funds was granted.

The Financial Times reported that the commission has said it will unfreeze around €13bn in funding before the end of next month, nearly a year after €22bn in cohesion funds were frozen because Hungary was reportedly not complying with rules designed to protect human rights.

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Earlier this year, Hungary had brought in judicial reforms in response to Brussel’s demands.

These allowed the commission to release 13bn, more than half of the frozen funding.

A spokesperson for the commission, Stefan de Keersmaecker said Brussels had written to Hungary’s government seeking “clarifications”.

He added: “As soon as Hungary will have replied to these questions, the commission will continue its assessment.”

The release of billions of Euros which could help Ukraine comes as concern grows that support is dwindling for the embattled nation.

Last week, the US Congress decided not to give Ukraine $6bn worth of aid in order to secure a government funding bill.

Following the financial calamity, President Joe Biden said the USA would continue supporting Ukraine.

Mr Biden said Ukraine could “count on” the support of America despite a growing divide on whether or not financial support should continue.

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The BBC reported that Mr Biden said: “We cannot, under any circumstances, allow US support to Ukraine to be interrupted. I can reassure [Ukraine] we’ll get there, that we’re going to get it done.

“I want to assure our American allies… that you can count on our support, we will not walk away.”

Despite Mr Biden’s statements, America’s long-term involvement with Ukraine is not guaranteed as Republicans become more riled.

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz told the media that funding “authorised out of this Congress is somewhere between more than enough and way too much”.

Without arms and funding from the USA, Ukraine will find sustaining its fight against Russia much more difficult.

Ukrainian MP Oleksi Goncharenko warned that the USA’s hesitation should be Europe’s concern.

He told the BBC: “The vote in US Congress is disturbing. The US said they would be with Ukraine as long as it takes and now see how support of Ukraine is excluded from the stop-gap deal.

“This is a sign of alarm, not only for Ukraine but for Europe, too.”

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