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ISW: Russia exploiting far-right nationalism in Europe against Ukraine

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 30, 2024 8:47 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian, Hungarian and European flags displayed on the town hall of Berehove, western Ukraine, on March 7, 2022. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia is taking advantage of European far-right nationalist movements' increasingly vocal claims to Ukrainian territory, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported in its daily assessment on Jan. 29.

Far-right movements in Hungary and Romania raised concern this past week after party leaders in their respective countries claimed parts of Ukrainian territory.

Claudiu Tarziu, one of the leaders of Romania's far-right Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) party, said his country should "reunite" with Moldova and the Ukrainian border regions of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, and Zakarpattia.

Similar comments were made by Hungarian far-right leader Laszlo Toroczkai, who said Hungary should claim Zakarpattia Oblast if Ukraine loses the war with Russia.

Zakarpattia Oblast is Ukraine's most southwestern region and has significant Hungarian and Romanian ethnic minorities. The historical region of Northern Bukovina is a part of today's Ukrainian Chernivtsi Oblast, while Bessarabia covers Moldova and parts of Chernivtsi and Odesa oblasts.

Russian sources amplified both of these statements, the ISW said, echoing Russia's call for a "partition of Ukraine" made before the beginning of the full-scale war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also explicitly invoked the various territorial claims that irredentist movements in countries neighboring Ukraine have made.

He has also regularly threatened that Ukraine will lose its sovereignty if it does not bow to Russian demands.

The AUR party in Romania and Toroczkai's Our Homeland party in Hungary have representation in their respective parliaments but are largely relegated to the fringes of government.

Our Homeland currently holds six seats out of a total of 199 in Hungary's parliament.

Although polls in Romania showed AUR competing for second place with the ruling liberal PNL party ahead of upcoming elections, experts estimate that the far-right radicals have only limited chances of finding a coalition partner to form a government.

Russian officials have tried to encourage Poland to seek the reclamation of western Ukraine, formerly Polish territory, but such sentiments have not gained any significant traction, nor are they supported by any major political parties in Poland.

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