EU ministers gather in Kyiv for talks on Ukraine support amid funding fight in U.S.

European Commission foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell described Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine as an "existential threat" to Europe. Photo by Ukraine Foreign Ministry/EPA-EFE
European Commission foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell described Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine as an "existential threat" to Europe. Photo by Ukraine Foreign Ministry/EPA-EFE

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Foreign ministers from the European Union gathered in Kyiv Monday for an informal summit that aimed to demonstrate the bloc's support for Ukraine as additional funding from the U.S. to fight Russia appeared increasingly uncertain.

The solidarity conference was led by the European Commission's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, who described the ongoing conflict as an "existential threat" to Europe.


The meeting set the stage for Ukraine to join the 27-nation bloc as the war was approaching the two-year mark.

The first such gathering outside EU territory took place after the U.S. Senate approved short-term funding that averted a government shutdown but left out additional assistance for Ukraine due to stout opposition from far-right Republicans on Capitol Hill.

However, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said before the summit that recent talks with U.S. officials left him confident that the door with Washington remains open.

"The question is whether what happens in the U.S. Congress last weekend is an incident or a system; I think it was an incident," he said. "So we don't feel that the U.S. support has been shattered ... because the United States understands that what is at stake in Ukraine is much bigger than just Ukraine, it's about the stability and predictability of the world. And therefore I believe that we'll be able to find the necessary solutions."


The morning after the vote, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed grit and resolve, vowing nothing would "shut down" Kyiv's efforts to defend itself.

The same day, President Joe Biden called on Republican lawmakers to reappropriate funding for Ukraine, which was part of a deal Biden struck with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that would have provided $12 billion to Kyiv. However, the funding was omitted from the Sept. 30 stopgap spending bill after increased resistance from GOP hardliners who oppose continued funding for the war.

The foreign ministers discussed how the EU could provide more military assistance to Ukraine while seeking inroads with "our U.S. allies and friends, for them to continue supporting" Ukraine's defense, which Biden has called critical to the future of democracy worldwide.

Borrell expressed confidence that Republican lawmakers in the U.S. would come around soon on the funding matter, saying he was "sure that this decision will be reconsidered."

The summit members also faced pressure on another front as pro-Russian populists won an election in neighboring Slovakia over the weekend.

In remarks to kick off the meeting, Borrell voiced a "message of support" from the coalition, saying EU leaders were increasingly open to the prospect of Ukraine's membership in the coalition and the war with Russia was taking place "within the future borders of the European Union."


"This war is having deep consequences for the whole world," Borrell said. "Maybe it's not seen like this by everybody around the world. But for us Europeans, it's an existential threat."

Summit members also planned to discuss a 10-point peace plan, which calls for Ukraine's 1991 borders to be restored and for a complete withdrawal of Russian troops.

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