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Hungary blocks $18 billion EU aid package for Ukraine

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insists his nation's veto of an $18 billion aid EU aid package is related to concerns over common debt and not an attempt to pressure the economic bloc to release funds intended for development in Hungary. File Photo by Zoltan Fischer/EPA-EFE
1 of 3 | Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insists his nation's veto of an $18 billion aid EU aid package is related to concerns over common debt and not an attempt to pressure the economic bloc to release funds intended for development in Hungary. File Photo by Zoltan Fischer/EPA-EFE

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Hungary on Tuesday vetoed an $18 billion European Union aid package for Ukraine.

Hungarian minister Mihaly Varga announced the veto during a meeting of EU ministers on Tuesday, throwing a wrench in the plan to provide Ukraine with $1.5 billion per month throughout 2023 to cover its state deficit as it fends off a Russian invasion.

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"Hungary is not in favor of the amendment of the financial regulation," said Varga.

The veto led finance ministers to delay three upcoming votes, including a vote on corporate tax reform and a vote on a recovery plan for suspended Hungarian funds.

The European Commission recommended last week that $7.5 billion in EU funds destined for Hungary remain suspended after the nation failed to meet milestones required to combat corruption.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Tusesday's veto was not a pressure tactic.

"Today's news was all about Hungary bettering financial assistance to #Ukraine. This is fake news. Hungary is ready to give financial assistance to Ukraine, on a bilateral basis. No #veto, no blackmailing," Orban tweeted on Tuesday.

Orban blamed the decision on debt issues within the economic bloc "common EU debt is not the solution. If we continue to go down the road towards a debt community, we will not be able to turn back."

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Budget commissioner Johannes Hahn told a public session of EU finance ministers that the European Commission will seek alternative approaches to "provide the necessary solution to Ukraine already as of January."

Czech finance minister Zbynek Stanjura told the gathering of finance ministers "our ambition remains that we will start disbursements to Ukraine in January."

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