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EU sends first payment to Ukraine from €50 billion support fund

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The European Commission issued the first €4.5-billion ($4.9 billion) payment in financial aid for Ukraine from a €50-billion support fund on Wednesday.

Facing the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the payments are “crucial to help Ukraine maintain the functioning of the state,” commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

The financial support is intended to bolster the warn-torn country’s public finances, including paying pensions and salaries and providing basic public services.

The EU executive arm announced the first payment as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited Brussels to deliver a plan to lay the basis for regular future payments from the EU fund.

Shmyhal thanked the EU for the financial support his country received since Russia launched a full-scale invasion two years ago. “Ukraine will always remember and appreciate this,” he said.

The €50-billion fund for Ukraine to be provided over four years from the EU budget faced fierce opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who blocked the first attempt to launch the fund.

Orbán criticized the lack of review options in the fund. The Hungarian leader also hit out that in his view, EU budget funds earmarked for his country had also been withheld over over corruption and abuse of power allegations.

To secure his support, EU leaders agreed to debate the management of the fund for Ukraine once a year.

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