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Belgian PM: EU to scale up its support to Ukraine

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 9, 2024 10:24 PM 2 min read
Illustrative photo: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured after a meeting in Brussels, Wednesday 11 October 2023. (Eric Lalmand / Pool / Photo News via Getty Images)
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The European Union "will further scale up its support to Ukraine," Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said on X on Jan. 9, after Belgium started its term leading the European Council.

The presidency rotates among European Union member states every six months. Spain held the presidency until Dec. 31.

"We will continue bringing our economies and people closer while Ukraine progresses on its accession path," de Croo said.

De Croo also said he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who agreed on "maintaining our unwavering support for Ukraine," and with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky said he congratulated Belgium on assuming the presidency and that he appreciated "that support for Ukraine and international law is among its priorities."

"We discussed our bilateral defense cooperation as well as the coordination of European defense assistance," Zelensky said.

The Belgian Defense Ministry announced on Jan. 4 that it will send two F-16 fighter jets and 50 training personnel to Denmark from March to September to support the training of Ukrainian pilots.

Belgium is one of the 11 founding countries in the "fighter jet coalition" established in July that aims to train Ukrainians to operate F-16s.

In 2023, de Croo called for using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine's reconstruction and for a sanction on Russian diamonds. Belgium's second-largest city, Antwerp, is one of the world's centers of diamond trade.

Russian diamonds were eventually included in the EU's 12th package of sanctions, adopted on Dec. 18.

Scholz criticizes EU for providing insufficient military aid to Ukraine
“As significant as the German contribution is, it will not be enough to ensure Ukraine’s security in the long run,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
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