BSS
  12 Jun 2024, 16:57

NATO, Hungary agree Orban 'will not block' greater Ukraine support

BUDAPEST, June 12, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Hungarian

Prime Minister Viktor Orban agreed on Wednesday that Budapest would "not
block" the defence alliance from contributing more to Ukraine's fight against
Russia's invasion.

Stoltenberg, who has been touring NATO members, is trying to hammer out a
plan to be announced at a summit in Washington next month for NATO to play a
bigger role in coordinating weapons deliveries and training for Kyiv's
forces.

Hungary has objected, claiming it could drag the alliance into the war with
Russia. It has already refused to supply arms to Ukraine.

As Moscow's closest EU ally despite its invasion of Ukraine, Orban is
increasingly stoking fears of a war between the West and Russia, which he
blames on Brussels and NATO.

The nationalist premier recently also suggested that he would like to
"redefine" the position of Hungary in the alliance to prevent any
participation in operations "outside NATO territory".

On Wednesday, the two men agreed on a way forward, including Hungary not
blocking efforts by Stoltenberg to get NATO members to pledge to keep
supplying at least support worth 40 billion euros ($43 billion) a year to
Ukraine for as long as it takes.

"What the prime minister and I have agreed today is that Hungary will not
block other allies to agree a pledge for financial support to Ukraine and the
leading role for NATO in coordinating support to Ukraine," Stoltenberg told
reporters in a joint press conference with Orban following their meeting in
Budapest.

Orban hailed "a difficult but constructive negotiation" with Stoltenberg.

"Today, we received guarantees that in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war,
Hungary will not have to participate in military actions outside its
territory," Orban told reporters at the joint press conference.

"Hungary will neither contribute money nor send people to this war, nor will
Hungarian territory be used for involvement in this war," he added.

However Orban warned the "challenging period is not over", vowing to keep
advocating for "decisions that align with Hungary's interests" after the NATO
summit.

- Increasing frustration -

NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels Thursday will now look to seal the
final agreement on NATO's role in weapons deliveries ahead of the summit.

The other 31 countries in the alliance appear on board with the plan --
although diplomats said there remain some technical details to finalise.

Diplomats from some NATO countries have expressed scepticism about granting
Orban a formal opt-out, arguing that sets a bad precedent inside the
alliance.

Some diplomats have been getting increasingly frustrated with Budapest -- one
of the NATO countries friendliest to Moscow.

One diplomat said that "in recent months especially" Hungary's opposition had
become a growing issue inside the US-led alliance.

NATO has so far avoided being directly involved in weapons deliveries to
Ukraine, for fear it would move it closer to conflict with Russia.

Instead, it has left it to Kyiv's main backer, the United States, to
coordinate arms sent by alliance members.

Officials and diplomats say the reason for NATO to take more of a role now is
to try to ensure deliveries could continue even if Republican presidential
candidate Donald Trump were re-elected and pulled the plug on US support.

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