A Ukrainian politician unleashed hell at a village council meeting on Friday when he let loose with two grenades. The official, identified as council representative Serhiy Batrin, 54, is seen in the viral footage entering the meeting late and standing in front of the door as a heated discussion is taking place.
He soon chimes in while calmly pulling two grenades from his pocket, dropping each to the floor. Remarkably, the people in the small room don’t appear to react while Batrin pulls a third grenade. Just as he tosses it onto the floor, the other two grenades detonate.
According to the National Police of Ukraine, a total of 26 people were injured, six seriously. Batrin, who was a deputy on the council, was among those seriously injured — initial reports said he was killed by the grenades but later reports said that medics were able to resuscitate him. The incident is not believed to be related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has launched an investigation into the incident, according to a spokesperson.
“Urgent measures are being taken to find out all the circumstances of the crime,” the SBU said. “In particular, the eyewitnesses and witnesses of the event, as well as the motives of the bomber, are being established.”
EU Funding for Ukraine Blocked
In other Ukraine news, Hungary has blocked €50 billion ($55 billion; £43 billion) in EU funding for Ukraine, only hours after an agreement to begin membership discussions was reached.
“Summary of the nightshift: veto for the extra money to Ukraine,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated during the negotiations in Brussels on Thursday. EU leaders stated that Ukraine would not be abandoned.
As it continues to resist occupying Russian soldiers, Ukraine is crucially dependent on EU and US funding.
Mr. Orban revealed his veto immediately after EU leaders opted to launch membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova, as well as to grant Georgia candidate status. Hungary, which has close connections with Russia, has long opposed Ukraine’s membership but did not veto the measure.
Mr. Orban briefly departed the negotiating room in what authorities described as a pre-agreed and constructive manner, while the other 26 leaders voted.
On Friday, he told the BBC that he had pushed for eight hours to persuade his EU counterparts to back down. Ukraine’s path to EU membership would be lengthy anyway, he said, and parliament in Budapest could still prevent it from happening if it so desired.
Negotiations on the financial package came to a close in the early hours of Friday. EU leaders said negotiations will restart early next year, assuring Kyiv of their continued support.
Ukrainian Budget Issues
Later that day, European Council President Charles Michel stated that the EU was “confident and optimistic” that it would fulfill its promise to help Ukraine. “The message to Ukraine is: we will be there to support you, we just need to figure out a few details together,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.
Mr Michel had previously announced that all but one EU leader had agreed on the aid package and broader budget recommendations for the bloc, however Sweden needed to consult its parliament. He committed to secure the deal’s required unanimity.
A significant delay in financial aid for the country would generate major problems for Ukraine’s budget, according to Kyiv-based economist Sergiy Fursa.
“It pays for all social responsibilities of the government – wages for teachers, doctors for pensions,” he went on to say.
Ukraine is also desperate for passage of a $61 billion US defense aid plan, but that decision is also being postponed due to serious differences between Democratic and Republican senators.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia’s occupying forces came to a halt at the start of winter, raising concerns that the Russians may simply outgun Ukraine.
Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, warned last week in a BBC interview that Ukrainians were in “mortal danger” of being abandoned without greater Western assistance.
President Putin insulted Ukraine on Thursday, claiming that Western “freebies” were running out.
Possible EU Membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was overjoyed when the EU announced its membership. “This is a win for Ukraine.” A triumph for all of Europe. “A victory that inspires, motivates, and strengthens,” he remarked.
Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik added that “we were really elated” when the news of EU membership talks broke, but that the feeling was now “bittersweet” due to the financial blockage. “It is impossible to have a European future without first winning the war,” she told the BBC.
Earlier this week, a top Ukrainian official told the BBC that the €50 billion was more significant than the message it conveys to both the Ukrainian people and Vladimir Putin.
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Ukraine and neighboring Moldova requested to join the EU. They were both granted candidacy status in June of last year, whereas Georgia was not.
Stay part of the free world
Moldovan President Maia Sandu said it was an honor to walk alongside Ukraine on the path to EU membership. “We wouldn’t be here today without Ukraine’s brave resistance against Russia’s brutal invasion,” she said in a statement.
She also told the BBC that Moldova’s ability to “stay part of the free world” was contingent on its membership in the EU.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed his fellow leaders for their “strong show of support,” saying that both Ukraine and Moldavia belonged to “the European family.”
According to a diplomat at the meeting, Mr Scholz suggested that Mr Orban leave the room so that the vote could take place.
Later, the Hungarian leader separated himself from his colleagues in a Facebook video message, saying, “EU membership of Ukraine is a bad decision.” Hungary does not wish to be a part of this disastrous decision.”
Mr. Orban has also maintained that because Ukraine is not a member of the EU, it should not get huge sums of money from the EU.
Because negotiations to join the EU can take years, Thursday’s decision does not guarantee Ukraine admission.
Although the EU’s executive has already complimented Ukraine for completing more than 90% of the actions taken so far on justice and combatting corruption, EU candidate countries must complete a series of changes to adhere to standards spanning from the rule of law to the economy.
Other nations, aside from Hungary, are skeptical of expanding the EU beyond the current 27. And talk of enlargement is frequently accompanied by airy promises for fundamental reform of a bloc that is frequently unwieldy on far less basic concerns.
It is, however, a morale boost that comes just as Ukraine enters its second winter following Russia’s full-scale invasion, and as the world’s attention is diverted elsewhere by the Middle East war.