EU foreign ministers convene in Kyiv, underlining their unwavering commitment to support Ukraine in the face of growing tensions and challenges.
Kyiv, October 2, 2023 – In a significant show of solidarity, European Union (EU) foreign ministers gathered in Kyiv for a landmark meeting, marking the first time the EU’s foreign affairs council convened outside its borders. The meeting serves as a powerful symbol of the EU’s enduring support for Ukraine amidst growing disagreements among member states over how to back Kyiv’s efforts against Russian forces.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, emphasized the historical significance of the gathering, stating, “We are convening in a historic meeting of the EU foreign ministers here in Ukraine, candidate country and future member of the EU.” Borrell made it clear that the primary purpose of the meeting was to express solidarity with the Ukrainian people, although it was not aimed at reaching concrete conclusions or decisions.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, hailed the meeting as a crucial signal of European support. He stated, “For the first time ever, the foreign affairs council is going to sit down outside of its current borders outside the borders of the European Union but within future borders of the European Union.”
Throughout the 19 months of the conflict, the EU’s 27 member nations have remained broadly united in their support for Ukraine. This support has been demonstrated through 11 rounds of sanctions against Russia and substantial financial investments in Kyiv’s defense capabilities.
However, recent tensions within the EU have raised concerns about the sustainability of this united front. Hungary, Russia’s closest ally within the EU, may be joined by Slovakia in opposing further support for Ukraine as the populist Robert Fico seeks power in Bratislava. Additionally, friction has arisen between Ukraine and some of its staunchest EU supporters, particularly Poland, over the influx of Ukrainian grain into their markets.
France’s top diplomat, Catherine Colonna, sought to address these concerns by emphasizing the EU’s determination to support Ukraine over the long term. She stated, “It is a demonstration of our resolute and lasting support for Ukraine, until it can win. It is also a message to Russia that it should not count on our fatigue. We will be there for a long time to come.”
The Kremlin has anticipated Western countries growing weary of their support for Ukraine and predicted that fatigue over the issue will increase.
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, called for the creation of a strategy to protect Ukraine from potential Russian strikes on its energy grid in the coming winter months. She stressed the need for air defense, generators, and strengthened energy supply to prevent a recurrence of last winter’s targeted attacks on critical infrastructure.
In a concerning development, Ukraine reported Russian shelling in the city of Kherson in the south, resulting in civilian casualties. Additionally, a civilian was killed by Russian fire in the encircled town of Avdiivka in the war-battered Donetsk region. Ukrainian intelligence reported a drone strike on a plant producing cruise missiles in the western region of Smolensk.
The absence of the foreign ministers of Hungary, Poland, and Latvia at the summit, due to illness, further underscores the challenges facing EU unity in supporting Ukraine.
As the conflict continues, the EU’s commitment to Ukraine remains steadfast, with this historic meeting in Kyiv serving as a powerful testament to the enduring bond between the EU and Ukraine.