The foreign ministers of the European Union meet this Monday in Brussels in a meeting with the new set of sanctions against Russia on the table and the agreement to expand the fund to send weapons to Ukraine in the air due to Hungary’s threat to veto more restrictions against Moscow.
Thus, it is expected that after an exchange with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dimitro Kuleba, by videoconference, their European counterparts will study the ninth package of European sanctions against Russia, after a senior EU official has indicated that ” will make decisions” about the new batch.
The round in retaliation for the wave of attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine includes restrictions on the export of drones and adding 200 individuals, including senior military and political commanders, to the European blacklist, as well as expanding restrictions on the financial sector and to Russian exports.
It remains to be seen if the conditions are finally in place to give the green light to the package, given the fears of various delegations that Budapest will veto the initiative, which requires the unanimity of the Twenty-seven, after ensuring that it will not agree on more sanctions against Russia. “There is an elephant in the room”, indicate diplomatic sources in reference to the Hungarian position, while insisting that the sanctions package is key to continue exerting pressure on Moscow and to show that the EU does not lose steam in its support for Kiev .
The threat of a Hungarian blockade extends to other initiatives such as expanding the European Peace Mechanism, with which the EU has sent weapons to Kiev since the start of the Russian invasion, macro-financial aid of 18,000 million euros for 2023 and even the agreement for a 15 percent corporate tax rate for multinationals.
“There is a high probability that it will succeed, but predicting what Hungary will do is risky business, if you look at the past, in the end they have never blocked but now we are in a very specific situation,” said a European diplomat, referring to the conflict. opened between Brussels and Budapest by European funds. This being the case, several diplomatic sources see it as more likely that the ninth round of European sanctions will go ahead during the week, preferably before the EU leaders’ summit on December 15.
Another of the agreements that Budapest threatens to boycott at the meeting on Monday is the one that refers to the new funds for the European Mechanism for Peace, a key instrument of the EU to supply weapons to Kiev, which is at a low level after having exhausted the practically all. It currently has only 810 million of the initial budget of more than 5,000 million until 2027, putting the financing of the bloc’s security and defense policy at risk.
The proposal from Brussels is to approve a first batch of 2,000 million to have new funds as of January, with the idea of expanding the ceiling to 5,500 million throughout 2023, according to other European delegations.
The ministers will discuss the situation in Iran, where protests continue over the death in custody of the young Mahsa Amini, violently responded to by Tehran, which has extended the repression, going so far as to execute a person arrested just three weeks ago in the demonstrations .
In this sense, a step forward is expected from the EU with more sanctions, a movement that once again calls into question the possibilities of restoring the Iranian nuclear pact, after months of negotiations with Tehran that have not borne fruit to revive a pact that diplomatic sources see “dead”.
Before all these debates, the EU foreign ministers will hold a meeting with the Eastern Partnership countries, namely Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, in what will be another opportunity to show support for the region in the face of the consequences of the war in Eastern Europe. The idea is to discuss what the European block can do to contribute to strengthening stability and prosperity in the region, improving the resilience of the area and bringing it closer to the EU.