Could formal talks for Ukraine’s EU accession start in December?

A report on Kyiv’s progress in meeting seven conditions for entry to the 27-country bloc could come next month as a precursor to talks.

A few days after Ukraine hosted EU foreign ministers in Kyiv, there are reports in Brussels that indicate a diplomatic road map for its accession to the European Union.

Unnamed diplomatic sources cited by the publication Politico suggest a progress report is due next month with formal talks scheduled for December.

Politico suggests that after the progress report is released the EU Commission will issue a statement that will make it very hard for member states to refuse “open negotiations”. According to the publication, progress towards the seven criteria is being made with only one sticking point on minorities.

Shoring up international support is critical for Kyiv, and the reports from the EU come as consensus on support for financial support for Ukraine in the United States is coming under increased strain.

John Kirby, US National Security Council spokesman, issued reassurances, but tempered by concern about cross-party support.

He said: “As President Biden made clear, we cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted. Time is not our friend. We have enough funding authorities to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs for a bit longer. But we need Congress to act to ensure that there is no disruption in our support.”

But a week can be a long time in American politics. Last week, Ukrainian funding was dropped from a last-minute deal to avoid a US government shutdown, a deal steered through congress by House speaker and Republican, Kevin McCarthy.

This week McCarthy found himself out of office, in an unprecedented vote orchestrated by the right wing of his own party. Congress is effectively suspended until next week, when a deeply divided house will try to elect a new speaker.

All of this is music to ears of the Kremlin, which is hoping a long war of attrition will eventually lead to a waning of support for Ukraine and its armed forces.