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All 27 EU foreign ministers meet in Kiev

Historical meeting
All 27 EU foreign ministers meet in Kiev

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Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is traveling to Kiev together with her counterparts from EU countries. An informal meeting to support Ukraine will take place there. For the first time, all 27 state representatives outside the EU are meeting. Baerbock reiterates her demands.

To support Ukraine, the foreign ministers of the EU states traveled to Kiev for a historic meeting. It is the first time that there has been such a meeting of representatives of all 27 EU states outside the EU, said EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell. The discussions should focus on the current situation in view of the Russian war of aggression and the EU's support for Ukraine.

“The future of Ukraine lies in the EU,” wrote Borrell on X, formerly Twitter. Since Russia invaded the neighboring country in February 2022, never before has such a large group of high-ranking foreign politicians come to Kiev. “With this Foreign Council of EU Foreign Ministers, we are bringing the European Union to where the heart of Europe currently beats strongest,” emphasized Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. This is her second visit to Ukraine within a few weeks; she was last in Kiev on September 11th.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the message of the meeting was that the European Union was expanding into Ukraine and we were very grateful for that. The “historic event” takes place outside the current EU borders, but within the future EU borders.

Baerbock as a “winter protection umbrella”

Baerbock reiterated her call for a “winter protection umbrella” for Ukraine. This includes expanding air defense, supplying electricity generators and strengthening the overall energy supply. “We saw last winter how brutally the Russian president is waging this war by deliberately attacking power plants,” said the Green politician. Vladimir Putin is betting that the water supply will collapse at temperatures of 20 degrees below freezing. “We have to prevent this as much as possible with everything we have.” Germany has already provided Ukraine with massive support with air defense systems such as Iris-T and Patriot.

As was usual during the Russian war of aggression, the trip was not announced in advance for security reasons. As a topic for the EU meeting, Borrell mentioned his proposal to make longer-term financing commitments for military aid to Ukraine and to use EU money to support the delivery of modern fighter jets and missiles. He wants to mobilize five billion euros annually from 2024 to the end of 2027. Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said his country supported the proposal. With a view to the possible decline in US aid to Ukraine, he said that, in his view, Europe is already doing its part. But you have to be prepared to do more. The meeting should send a strong transatlantic signal and show that people are ready to take responsibility for events on their own continent.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said Ukrainians should continue to be supported with good weapons and ammunition because they fought for the freedom of all of Europe. “This is not just the war of the Ukrainians, but also a war of Europe as a continent,” she emphasized. Finland knows how difficult it is to build a democratic and open society next to a neighbor like Russia, said Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen from Helsinki. “It is therefore all the more important for us Finns to support the Ukrainians on their path to the European Union and NATO one day.”

European support is also important at a time when US aid funding is in limbo because of a budget dispute in Washington. On Sunday, the party of the left-wing and pro-Russian former Prime Minister Robert Fico became the strongest force in Slovakia. Fico had announced that he wanted to end his country's military aid to Ukraine.

Prospects of joining the EU?

The meeting again focused on Ukraine's EU accession prospects. Baerbock reiterated the EU's promise to admit Ukraine into the community of states with its current 27 members at an as yet undetermined date. “The future of Ukraine lies in the European Union, in this community of freedom. And it will soon stretch from Lisbon to Luhansk.” Ukraine has been a candidate for EU membership since June 2022. However, the negotiations about admission can take several years and are conducted with an open mind, so they do not guarantee admission.

All 27 states must decide unanimously. There should be a positive vote if Ukraine has met certain requirements. This includes a stronger fight against corruption. Baerbock praised the reforms, for example in the justice sector and the media sector, that the Ukrainian government has already implemented despite the Russian attacks.

While the minister came from most EU countries, the important neighboring country Poland was represented by a deputy foreign minister. The close relationship is currently strained due to a Polish import ban on Ukrainian grain. Only one high-ranking diplomat came from Russia-friendly Hungary.

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