In an impassioned video address to European Union leaders on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed for the creation of a multi-billion euro fund to provide weapons and military aid to Ukraine.
The fund will allow more stable military support for Ukraine as North Korea and Iran, ramp up their arms delivery for Russia’s war.
Today, I addressed the European Council summit as decisions on the Ukraine Assistance Fund and Ukraine Facility were being debated.
I thanked EU leaders for previous critical decisions and advocated for continued European unity and strength in the face of global competition.
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 1, 2024
Zelensky stressed that unity among EU nations is critical to establish the proposed “Ukraine Assistance Fund” within the European Peace Facility. He called for at least EUR 5bn per year over a period of 4 years, describing it as a “clear priority.”
“While North Korea and Iran are supplying Russia with weapons, unfortunately, the implementation of the European plan to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine is being delayed,” Zelensky said. “And this too is a signal of global competition, which Europe cannot afford to lose.”
The Ukrainian leader welcomed the EU’s approval of EUR50 bn for the new “Ukraine Facility” which he said “sends a strong signal that Ukraine will withstand any challenges, as will Europe.”
However, Zelensky emphasized the need for more sustained funding through the proposed weapons fund.
“By launching the EU’s Ukraine Facility, we are creating a sustainable financial instrument that will work not only today but also tomorrow and will strengthen Ukrainian resilience,” he said.
Zelensky credited EU unity for sending “a signal across the Atlantic and around the world that the international rules-based world order will endure challenges.”
“Europe sets the tone for global affairs through its unity. This is already a fact. And it must remain this way,” he added.
The Ukrainian president concluded by expressing his faith in the EU, saying, “I believe that European unity will preserve normal life on our continent. I am as confident in this as you all are.”
- On 20 January 2024, the European Union proposed establishing a Ukraine Assistance Fund to streamline military aid to Ukraine. The fund would have an annual budget of approximately €5 billion focused on joint procurement of weapons and training Ukrainian troops. This initiative aimed to shift from the current model of reimbursing EU states for supplies sent to Ukraine.
- Hungary initially opposed the creation of the fund, but on 25 January, agreed to drop its objections.
- On 28 January, Scholz urged EU member nations to provide more aid to Ukraine, with Germany committing €7 billion in 2024, accounting for over half of the bloc’s total funding.