Problematic neighbour: Orban acts in Transcarpathia in the way Putin did in Donbas – WP

Hungary influences Transcarpathia almost as much as Russia has influenced Ukraine’s eastern regions. So Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is another highly problematic neighbour for Kyiv, the Washington Post writes.

The Washington Post pointed out that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban maintains warm relations with Russian dictator Putin, obstructs EU sanctions against Moscow, and insists on pressuring Ukraine to negotiate a peace agreement.

Although Hungary is part of NATO, Orban has refused to allow Western weapons to be transported through Hungarian territory to help Ukraine.

New Orban’s controversial statement

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that Ukrainians could fight if the United States supported them with weapons and money.

He made this statement in a Christmas interview with the publication Magyar Nemzet, the full text of which was published on December 27.

Orban noted that this year was the most dangerous in the last thirty years. He claims that Hungary faced the danger of being drawn into the war in Ukraine while rising energy prices also pushed the country in a dangerous direction.

“Ukraine can continue to fight only if the United States supports them with money and weapons. If Americans want peace, there will be peace,” Orban said.

“We are interested in the survival of a sovereign Ukraine, and we are interested in Russia not posing a threat to the security of Europe. But we are not interested in giving up all our economic relations with Russia,” the Hungarian Prime Minister stressed.

However, Mr. Orban did not explain how Ukraine could repel Russian attacks and bombardments and defend its sovereignty without weapons. After all, the course of the war would be positive for Ukrainians without a weapons supply, and the absence of weapons would not stop Russians from invasion. Rather the opposite.

Doesn’t Orban understand this? Or he’s openly on Russia’s side, the aggressor state in this war?

Orban’s pro-Russia narratives

A few days before, in his unusual press conference, Victor Orban shared pro-Russia narratives on the Russia-Ukraine war. Orban condemned the EU for “drifting into the war” via sanctions against Russia and arming and training the Ukrainian military. 

Orban asserted that the war in Ukraine had no impact on Hungary’s security, which directly contradicts the evidence that Ukraine is protecting Europe from Russian aggression.

Hungarian revanchist nationalism

The Hungarian authoritarian leader, known for suppressing political opposition and using his national press as his mouthpiece, insists that Ukrainians who speak his language need protection and financial aid. He allows his government to issue passports illegally to Ukrainian citizens. 

Does this sound like Russia’s influence in eastern Ukraine? It’s essentially Hungary’s role in western Ukraine, – the Washington Post noted.

Orban has become a hero of far-right populists, cultivating his kind of revanchist Hungarian nationalism. He is even suspected that he may one day try to reclaim “Hungarian lands” in Ukraine. In the fall, he wore a scarf with a map of “Greater Hungary,” which depicts parts of neighboring states within it, including Ukraine.

As the Russia-Ukraine war progressed, relations between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and Viktor Orban went colder. The leaders quarrelled publicly, and Zelensky accused the Hungarian government of being indifferent to the suffering of Ukrainians.

In November, Hungarian President Katalin Novak visited Kyiv in support. But this month, Hungary temporarily blocked EU efforts to approve about $18 million in emergency loans for Ukraine. Similarly, Budapest has suspended the EU boycott of Russian oil.

Hungary’s imperial ambitions

Budapest has also issued passports to more than a million ethnic Hungarians living abroad. But dual citizenship is illegal in Ukraine. In 2018, Ukrainian authorities expelled the Hungarian consul in Transcarpathia. They launched an investigation into “high treason” after a video of the consul issuing passports in Beregovo went viral.

Meanwhile, Budapest officials accuse Kyiv of “restricting the rights” of ethnic Hungarians and forcing them to assimilate, citing a 2017 language law. Recall that this law decreed that education in Ukrainian public schools occurs exclusively in Ukrainian under Russian attacks.

Orban also said he opposed military aid to Ukraine because of concerns about Hungarians’ safety. According to him, no Hungarian should enter the conflict between the Ukrainians and the Russians. Meanwhile, ethnic Hungarian, Ukrainians nationals, are already defending Ukraine at the front, dying and being wounded. And they, like any other military, need weapons.

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