Hungary seeks to ‘redefine’ its NATO membership above Ukraine

Unlock Editor’s Digest for free

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he was seeking to “redefine” the terms of NATO membership because of his long-standing opposition to helping Ukraine against Russia’s war.

“Our lawyers and officials are working (to define) how Hungary can exist as a NATO member without participating in NATO operations outside NATO territory,” Orbán told national radio on Friday.

The Hungarian leader has refused to send military aid to kyiv and has repeatedly delayed EU sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine. He also strongly opposes NATO training Ukrainian soldiers in Ukraine.

“There have not been many situations in NATO history where a member state stuck to the basic idea of ​​NATO as openly and clearly as Hungary does now, and therefore… . . Its position within the military alliance would have to be redefined,” Orbán said.

Their position is that Ukrainian forces cannot win on the battlefield, that the West should avoid a conflict with Russia by any means and that kyiv should agree to an immediate ceasefire. The United States has said a ceasefire now would amount to capitulation.

Orbán’s comments appear to have come in response to recent proposals by several NATO members for the alliance to train Ukrainian troops in Ukraine rather than other European countries. They also come six weeks before NATO’s annual leaders’ summit in Washington, where the alliance seeks to design a new long-term support strategy for Ukraine’s military.

The Hungarian military has participated in NATO missions abroad, including Afghanistan and Iraq, and has led the KFOR alliance’s peace effort in Kosovo.

Orbán acknowledged that his position was making Hungary an outlier within the alliance, but said he refused to back down. “It’s like everyone is already in a different future. “They simply refuse to consider these arguments beyond a courteous hearing,” he stated. “And the war planning continues.”

And he added: “We have indicated in advance that we do not approve of this and that we do not want to participate in financial or arms support, not even within the framework of NATO. Therefore, our situation is a strange ‘we are there, but we are not’ situation. I don’t know how long this can last.”

Hungary is considered a “non-participating” country, he added, but is working on a clearer definition.

“If we opted out, our participation in the NATO military structure and our situation would also change,” he said.

NATO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Henry Foy in Florence

Leave a Comment