Ukraine’s Zelenskyy lashes out at EU aid delay

After Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blasted the EU’s delay in sending €8 billion in emergency aid in his overnight address, the European Commission on Friday declined to commit to a timeline for disbursement.

“We do intend to come forward with a proposal concerning this remaining amount as soon as possible,” a Commission spokesperson said. “I can’t comment further on the timing.”

Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has been running a budget deficit of around $5 billion per month. It has called on international donors for help so it can cover basic costs like pensions and public sector wages — or risk financial collapse.

Back in May, EU leaders pledged to provide “up to €9 billion” in macro financial assistance to Kyiv. But so far, the European Commission has only been able to disburse €1 billion in loans backed by the EU’s budget.

“Every day and in various ways, I remind some leaders of the European Union that Ukrainian pensioners, our displaced persons, our teachers and other people who depend on budget payments cannot be held hostage to their indecision or bureaucracy,” Zelenskyy said in his address.

“Such an artificial delay of macro-financial assistance to our state is either a crime or a mistake, and it is difficult to say which is worse in such conditions of a full-scale war,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the remaining €8 billion.

The European Commission is struggling to fund the guarantee of 70 percent that it needs to raise funds on the markets, as its own budget is depleted.

“In order to be able to provide these €8 billion, we need to find sufficient guarantees outside the EU budget,” a Commission spokesperson said. “We are looking at various options, one of which is working with guarantees from member states.”

But Germany — the EU’s largest economy — opposes providing budgetary guarantees, according to Commission officials and diplomats.

Zelenskyy declined to take a direct swipe at Berlin. “I don’t want to name the European country that is slowing it down now. Let’s believe that this is still a mistake and that it will be corrected,” he said.

The German finance ministry didn’t reply to a request for comment.

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