Hungary has vetoed a €50 billion ($54 billion) European financial aid package to Ukraine, just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy failed to persuade U.S. lawmakers to approve an additional $61 billion for the war-torn country.
The aid was vetoed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, delivering another tough blow to Zelenskyy who is heavily dependent on the European Union and U.S. funding to stave off Russian forces.
‘Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine… We will come back to the issue next year in the European Council after proper preparation,’ Orbán posted to X after an EU leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday.
The move leaves Zelenskyy in a desperate position for much-needed funding as the war drags on.
Orbán, who has a history of banking on clashes with other EU leaders for electoral benefit at home, told state radio that he blocked the aid package to Ukraine as part of a multiyear plan to make sure Hungary gets the funds it wants from the EU budget.
‘It is a great opportunity for Hungary to make it clear that it must get what it is entitled to. Not half of it, or one-fourth,’ he said.
Russia intended for its invasion to last only a few weeks, but Ukraine’s surprising and effective resistance dragged the conflict out as it nears a third year.
Ukraine’s much-promised counteroffensive in the second year, however, did not yield the results that Zelenskyy had promised, which has prompted questions from Congress over both the amount of aid and the timeline for how long the U.S. could or should provide ongoing assistance to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy, in an exclusive interview with Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier on ‘Special Report,’ insisted the question of funding Ukraine is not financial but ‘moral,’ as he urged the U.S. to keep backing his people.
Despite Orbán’s veto, the Hungarian leader did not stand in the way of the EU opening accession talks with Ukraine that could see it join the 27-member bloc in the future, a strategic goal of Zelenskyy, who wants to align the country closer with the West.
Zelenskyy hailed the approval of membership talks as a victory for Ukraine and Europe.
However, Orbán warned Hungary could still block the talks at any time.
‘This is a bad decision,’ the nationalist leader said, according to Reuters. ‘We can halt this process later on, and if needed we will pull the brakes, and the ultimate decision will be made by the Hungarian parliament.’
Decisions on enlarging the EU and on a review of its long-term budget, which includes the $54 billion in aid for the government in Kyiv, must be unanimous among all 27 member countries.
Fox News’s Peter Aiken, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.