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Stoltenberg: Hungary won't join NATO initiatives for Ukraine but won't block them either

by Martin Fornusek June 12, 2024 12:36 PM 2 min read
Illustrative purposes only: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrive at a joint press conference in Karmelita monastery, the Prime Minister's office in Budapest on June 12, 2024. ( Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
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Hungary will not join NATO's planned steps in support of Ukraine, but it will not obstruct them either, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on June 12 after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Stoltenberg visited Budapest less than a month before the allied summit in Washington, where NATO members plan to decide on long-term support for Kyiv in the face of Russian aggression.

"I expect allies will agree on a leading role for NATO in coordinating and providing security assistance and training for Ukraine. I also expect allies will agree on a long-term financial pledge to provide military support," Stoltenberg said.

"Prime Minister Orban has made it clear that Hungary will not participate in these NATO efforts, and I accept this position, and I'm glad that today the prime minister and I have agreed on modalities for Hungary's nonparticipation in NATO's support to Ukraine."

Budapest will not contribute any funds or personnel to these efforts. At the same time, Stoltenberg said Orban assured him that "Hungary will not oppose these efforts, enabling other allies to move forward."

Budapest has repeatedly opposed Ukraine's accession to NATO and the EU, sanctions on Russia, undermined Western aid efforts for Ukraine, and maintained close relations with Moscow throughout the full-scale war.

Hungary has also criticized NATO's initiative in support of Ukraine, calling the alliance's long-term plan a "crazy mission." Orban said in an interview in late May that Budapest is looking for ways to opt-out from any actions outside of the alliance's territory, allegedly fearing an escalation with Russia.

Stoltenberg said on June 11 that during the upcoming summit, NATO allies must decide to take a leading role in the support for Ukraine and called on the members to maintain the level of assistance, which amounts to 40 billion euros ($43 billion) per year.

FT: NATO’s B9 group considers barring Hungary from meetings
Diplomats of the Bucharest Nine (B9), a group of Eastern European NATO Allies, discussed a possibility of excluding Hungary from future meetings of the club, the Financial Times (FT) reported on June 11, citing people familiar with the talks.

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