The European Union expressed its firm support for Ukraine on Monday after its foreign ministers met in the capital, Kiev, in a historic meeting held for the first time outside its borders.
The meeting comes as disagreements increase between European Union member states over the issue of support for Ukraine and while Kiev is making limited gains in its counterattack against Russian forces.
“We’re holding a historic meeting of EU foreign ministers here in Ukraine, the candidate country and next member of the European Union,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on social media.
He added that the goal of the meeting is “to express our solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people,” acknowledging that the meeting “doesn’t aim to reach concrete results and decisions”.
For its part, Kyiv welcomed the meeting, by its Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba who told reporters alongside Borrell, “This is a historic event because it is the first time that the Foreign Affairs Council meets outside its current borders, outside the borders of the European Union, but within the future borders of the European Union”.
The 27 EU countries have remained united in their support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, imposing severe sanctions on Russia and spending billions of Euros on weapons for Kiev.
But there are now growing fears of cracks appearing within the European Union, with concern also growing about the support of the United States, one of the main countries that stands by Ukraine.
On the other hand, Slovakia may join Hungary, Russia’s closest ally in the European Union, in opposing further support for Ukraine after the victory of the populist party led by former Prime Minister Robert Fico in the legislative elections in Bratislava last weekend.
There are also tensions between Kiev and some of the countries, most supportive of it on the eastern side of the European Union, most notably Poland, over the issue of the flow of Ukrainian grain to its markets.
On the other hand, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna addressed concerns related to the decline in support, saying that the meeting was a signal to Moscow of the bloc’s determination to support Ukraine in the long term.
“It is evidence of our firm and permanent support for Ukraine until it wins,” she told reporters.
“It’s also a message to Russia that you shouldn’t bet that we will get tired, and our support will continue for a long time,” she added.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for developing a strategy to protect Ukraine from the consequences of Russian strikes on the Ukrainian energy network in the coming months as temperatures drop.
“Ukraine needs a winter protection plan that includes air defense, generators, and enhancing energy supplies,” she said in Kiev.
She continued, “Last winter, we saw the brutal way in which Russian President is waging this war, targeting vital infrastructure such as energy facilities”.
Ukrainian authorities say that Russia launched systematic strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leaving millions last year without heat or water.
The foreign ministers of Hungary, Poland and Latvia didn’t attend the summit, according to what a Ukrainian government official told AFP on condition of anonymity, explaining that the representatives of Poland and Latvia were absent due to illness.
Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins-Sloat said, “It’s really important that we gather here today to express our solidarity with Ukraine”.
On parallel, the Danish Ministry of Defense said on Monday that Copenhagen would contribute 100 million Danish kroner ($14.1 million) to a joint European request for ammunition under a European Union project to assist Ukraine.
The European Defense Agency said on Friday that seven EU member states had requested ammunition to deliver 155 mm artillery shells to Ukraine and replenish depleted Western stocks.
“With the abolition of the EU defense reservation last year, Denmark has the opportunity to participate fully in European defense cooperation, which includes the European Defense Agency,” the Danish Defense Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said in a statement.
The Danish Defense Ministry said that the ammunition is expected to be delivered during 2024.