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Economy & Tech

EDITORIAL | Ukraine Should Handle EU Aid Well to Prevent Donor Fatigue

Financial aid spread over 4 years would support resistance to Russian aggression. Ukraine now needs to show it has self-discipline in managing the enormous aid.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right) attends the EU emergency summit meeting in Brussels on February 1. (©Getty via Kyodo)

European Union leaders approved a budget of €50 billion EUR (around $54 billion USD) in financial support to Ukraine over the next four years. Its decision was announced on February 1, following an extraordinary summit meeting.

The 27 states in the EU agreed unanimously on the move. Their decision came after Moscow-friendly Hungary, which had opposed the aid, was cajoled into agreeing to it. 

This large aid package helps support Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression and is most welcome. Such financial support is highly significant for the cause of defending freedom and democracy from despotism.

After the decision, European Council President Charles Michel declared, "The EU is demonstrating leadership in supporting Ukraine." (Read his speech.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy participated online in the extraordinary summit. He welcomed the decision by saying, "It is no less important than military aid or sanctions against Russia."

Hungary's Reticence

The decision on funding was delayed in December 2023 after Hungary exercised its veto. Nonetheless, an agreement was finally reached after the EU pressured Hungary by threatening to freeze subsidies and take other measures against it. 

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Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's President attend the 'CEOs for Ukraine session during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. (©Stefan Wermuth/Pool via Reuters)

Going forward, the EU has announced a plan to use the interest earned on Russian central bank assets held in the West. Those assets were frozen due to sanctions to support Ukraine. They focused on interest rather than outright confiscation of the frozen assets to avoid violating international law. 

Ending Corruption and 'Aid Fatigue'

Diverting the interest money to assist in the defense and reconstruction of Ukraine is certainly appropriate. We hope that by continuing to provide long-term, unwavering assistance to Ukraine, Europe will also dispel concerns about "aid fatigue." 

United States President Joe Biden hailed the EU's huge aid commitment as a "historic decision." Nevertheless, with the Russian aggressor digging in on Ukrainian soil, American support will be essential if Ukraine is to regain in full its freedom and national territory. Republicans in Congress, who have been cool to providing aid to Ukraine, should pass the pending US aid plan. That aid is worth approximately $61 billion USD.

Ukraine was plagued by widespread corruption even before Russia invaded. Now, Russia is spreading propaganda that aid is being siphoned off through corruption. More than ever, the Zelensky government must exercise greater self-discipline if it is to retain the trust of the parties providing Ukraine with assistance. 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 7, 2024. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)

Japan-Ukraine Economic Reconstruction Promotion Conference

There is undeniable linkage between the situation in Ukraine and the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan. Japan needs to support Ukraine as well as impose sanctions on Russia for the sake of peace and stability for Japan and its surrounding region. 

The Japan-Ukraine Economic Reconstruction Promotion Conference is set to open in Tokyo on February 19. That forum will be a particularly important opportunity for Japan to show how it can contribute.   

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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