Hungary to block arms supplies to Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Hungary to block arms supplies to Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Hungary will prevent lethal weapons and troops from travelling through the country to Ukraine despite Russia’s invasion, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

He claimed weapons convoys in Hungary could become military targets.

“The reason for making this decision is that such deliveries might become targets of hostile military action and … we have to ensure the security of Hungary … that we are not getting involved in that war,” Szijjarto said after meeting Kosovo’s foreign minister, Donika Gervalla.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has close ties with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has refused to supply weapons to Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion. His pro-Putin stance might put Orban in an awkward position ahead of next month’s general election.

Orban faces a united coalition of six opposition parties led by the centre-right provincial mayor Peter Marki-Zay on April 3.

Hungary will deliver humanitarian assistance to western Ukraine, which has a significant ethnically Hungarian community, Szijjártó said.

Hungary ban on weapon supplies has angered observers.

“In case of an escalation of the war to the level of Russia attacking Nato countries, Hungary has an obligation to join Nato forces and expose itself to Russian attacks,” said a former Hungarian official, who asked for anonymity.

“No European country can stay low in face of this war when the future of the European security architecture is at stake. If we let Putin reach his goal, we risk the security of Hungary and Europe way beyond the level we do with this minimal contribution to countering this aggression,” the source added.

Orban met Putin for talks in early February. At the time, the populist prime minister said: “Russia’s demands for security guarantees” from Kyiv are “normal and should be the basis for negotiations. And I agree with that.”

Hungary relies heavily on cheap Russian gas and Orban needs long-term gas contracts at lower prices to maintain his gas-price cap ahead of the April 3 election.

Under a renewed long-term gas contract, signed in last September, Hungary is getting 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Russia’s state-run gas giant Gazprom via Serbia and a pipeline from Austria.

Rising energy prices are making Orban’s policy of central price-fixing expensive and will be increasingly tough to maintain ahead of next month’s election.

Orban’s close ties with Putin might cost him at the ballot box. Picture credit: Kremlin 

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