Hungary to allow NATO aid to flow to Ukraine

Budapest will not obstruct NATO military aid to Ukraine as it has the EU’s efforts, but it will not help.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, listens as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, on June 12, 2024 [Marton Monus/Reuters]

Hungary has agreed not to block NATO military aid to Ukraine, but it will not help either, the military alliance’s chief says.

After meetings with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Budapest on Wednesday that he “accepts” the position of the Central European country not to participate in NATO efforts for Ukraine.

Orban, seen as the closest of any EU leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has persistently obstructed the bloc’s efforts to supply Kyiv with arms and financing.

“No Hungarian personnel will take part in these activities and no Hungarian funds will be used to support them,” Stoltenberg said.

“At the same time, the prime minister has assured me that Hungary will not oppose these efforts, enabling other allies to move forward, and he has confirmed that Hungary will continue to meet its NATO commitments in full,” he added.

The NATO chief said he and Orban had “agreed modalities for Hungary’s nonparticipation in NATO’s support for Ukraine” but did not provide details.

Consensus

This year, Stoltenberg announced that NATO is seeking to guarantee long-term weapon deliveries to Kyiv and establish a 100-billion-euro ($108bn) fund to pay for them.

However, Hungary was quick to express its opposition.

The alliance hopes to seal an agreement on the proposals at a summit next month, and NATO decisions require consensus among its 32 members.

Western governments have been unhappy with some of Hungary’s positions since the start of the war in Ukraine, including a refusal to join some European Union sanctions against Russia or send arms shipments to Ukraine.

Nationalist-populist Orban has said he does not wish to allow “geopolitical tensions” surrounding the war to negatively impact Hungary’s relations with Russia, which include strong energy ties.

The meeting on Wednesday came amid efforts by Western allies to mobilise better support for Ukraine, both diplomatically and militarily.

The United States is planning a summit in Washington, DC, next month at which its fellow NATO members are expected to agree on a roadmap for providing long-term assistance and military training for Ukraine’s military.

During a joint news conference with the presidents of Latvia and Poland in Latvia’s capital, Riga, on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said he wants NATO allies to commit to a “long-term financial pledge” to Ukraine.

The military alliance has provided about 40 billion euros ($43bn) annually since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

“We must maintain this level of support for as long as necessary,” Stoltenberg said. “Credible, long-term support sends a clear message to President Putin that he cannot wait us out.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies