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Updated Dec 13, 2023, 9:36am EST
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Semafor Signals

European leaders divided over Ukraine aid and EU membership

Insights from Aftenposten, Le Monde, and The Financial Times

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NTB/Javad Parsa via Reuters
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Oslo on Wednesday to meet Nordic leaders after a disappointing U.S. trip, where he failed to break the impasse on Ukraine aid in Congress.

His surprise visit to Norway appears aimed at bolstering support for Ukraine’s war effort, with the Nordic nations among Kyiv’s biggest donors. Aid to Ukraine will also be one of the main topics at this week’s meeting of EU leaders in Brussels as the bloc struggles to agree on long-term funding for Kyiv as well as on talks over Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

After frosty trip in Washington, Zelenskyy gets a warm Scandinavian welcome

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Sources:  
Aftenposten, Kiel Institute for the World Economy

A Norwegian columnist described Zelenskyy’s visit to Oslo as a quick pitstop with close allies between tough rounds of negotiations with the U.S. and the EU. The beleaguered Ukrainian president will meet with leaders from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland during the trip. The Nordic countries are staunch supporters of Ukraine, with several of them among the largest supporters of Ukraine as a percentage of GDP. Zelenskyy got more out of Oslo than Washington, D.C., one Norwegian newspaper noted: Within hours of Zelenskyy’s arrival, Norway’s prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced a package of $270 million in Ukraine aid.

Aid is the most pressing problem, but EU membership may prove the most difficult

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Sources:  
Le Monde, The Financial Times

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday that he is willing to “make financial deals on financial matters,” but reiterated his opposition to opening EU accession talks with Ukraine. To buy Hungary’s support for the bloc’s funding plan for Kyiv, the EU is set to unblock a third of Hungary’s 30 billion euros in frozen funds, according to The Financial Times. Trickier still will be talks on Ukrainian hopes to join the EU, Le Monde reported. While Germany wants progress towards full membership to be based on merit, the Baltic states are hoping to speed the process up in light of Russia’s aggression. To complicate matters further, Austria is hoping to link Kyiv’s European future to the Western Balkans, where Vienna is hoping to help Bosnia-Herzegovina open accession talks.

The EU has an ammunition problem

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Sources:  
The Washington Post, International Institute for Strategic Studies

Last year, the EU pledged to deliver one million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine by March 2024 but has so far sent only 300,000 rounds. South Korea alone has provided more ammunition to Kyiv than the EU, a Washington Post investigation revealed. “The challenge now is to ramp up production quickly,” experts at a UK think tank argued.

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