The EU on Monday agreed to start paying out a first chunk of funds worth 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) earned from Russian frozen assets to help arm Ukraine, bypassing blockages from Hungary.

The money is part of roughly three billion euros a year in interest from immobilized Russian central bank funds that the EU agreed to use for Kyiv in early May.

Since then, the EU’s other 26 member states have been hashing out a legal route to unlock the funds without needing approval from Hungary, the friendliest country to Russia in the bloc.

Foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg signed off on the plan to start using the funds generated from the roughly 200 billion euros frozen in the EU after Russia launched its 2022 invasion.

“The windfall profits coming from Russian assets frozen in Europe, not the assets themselves, will be used in the swiftest possible manner for the benefit of Ukraine,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

“1.4 billion (euros) will be available in the course of next month, and another billion by the end of the year.”

About 90 percent of the funds frozen in the EU are held by the international deposit organization Euroclear, based in Belgium.

Hungary wasn’t given a veto after abstaining from an earlier vote on the issue, but that move left Budapest fuming.

“By completely ignoring European rules, Hungary was quite simply left out of the decision-making process,” foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said.

“This is a clear red line. Never before has such shameless disregard for common European rules been shown.”

While the latest move will be welcomed in Kyiv, Hungary is still blocking some six billion euros in further funds that are meant to help arm Ukraine.

The disbursal by the EU of the first slice of money generated from frozen funds comes after the G7 agreed to a plan to give Ukraine a $50 billion loan backed up by the assets.

That system should eventually supersede the current EU scheme.

With AFP