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Two years on: Will international support stay sufficiently united behind Ukraine to pay the price for security in Europe?

Article by Baroness Ashton

February 19, 2024

Two years on: Will international support stay sufficiently united behind Ukraine to pay the price for security in Europe?

As Europe contemplates further support for Ukraine, it glances furtively at what is happening in Washington DC. The internal machinations on Capitol Hill alone are not enough to stop the European Union (EU) and its European allies from continuing support, but they allow those who would prefer an alternative course to make their pitch. Chief amongst those is Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who shows a distinct lack of support towards Ukraine.


The scale of European support for Ukraine to date is huge and largely not understood. The EU has committed nearly 90 billion euro in aid, weaponry, budget support and hosting of millions of Ukrainian refugees. The UK’s 12 billion pounds [14 billion euro] is in addition to this. However, Europe knows that to continue on this scale is increasingly challenging, and will be much more difficult if the USA does not maintain its own commitments.


So, how long can European unity last? The most obvious worry is of sweeping gains from the far right in the elections to the European Parliament in June 2024. Nevertheless, a good working assumption is that the European Parliament will maintain a sufficient number of centre left and centre right MEPs to continue support for Ukraine. Yet another concern is that Slovakia’s Robert Fico may decide to join forces with Viktor Orbán. Sending one leader out of the room while a decision is made is a ploy the European Council has used in the past and could use again, but sending two feels like a slippery slope. Despite his rhetoric, Fico has so far tucked in behind major decisions; and the hope in Brussels is that this will last. The recently greenlit package of support for Ukraine, which will make available up to 50 billion euros in grants and loans until 2027, is a positive sign, – but how this will continue year on year will remain to be seen, particularly with Orbán inserting additional review clauses into the deal.[1]


More worrying would be Russia taking more ground and higher Ukrainian casualties. In this instance, the concern is not so much that European support would disappear, but that it would morph into support for a negotiated deal. Some might go further and suggest Ukraine should be prepared to make concessions which will effectively mean conceding territory. Either way, Ukraine’s hand would be poorer in such high stakes negotiations.


If Ukraine is taken, ripped apart and turned into a part of Russia or a vassal to it, what is the price for the security of Europe? I know wars end messily, with ragged edges; even outright victors must mourn loss and destruction. But wherever this moves, Europe has to stick with it. When the day comes, as it always does, when people sit around a table to work out an ending, Ukraine should feel Europe has its back.


Baroness Ashton is the Former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and former Vice President of the European Commission.


[1] EU Commission, EU solidarity with Ukraine,,grants%20and%20loans%20until%202027; Gregorio Sorgi, Barbara Moens and Elisa Braun, EU approves €50B Ukraine aid as Viktor Orbán folders, Politico, February 2024,,Orb%C3%A1n%2C%20 to%20 drop%20his%20 veto


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre.

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