Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has regularly slammed those European and NATO leaders who refuse to accept all his demands since the Russian invasion against Ukraine began. However, Zelenskiy’s attack on Orbán during his address to the European Council members last Friday was exceptional. Was the Ukrainian president right? Is PM Orbán a close ally of President Putin who should decide whether or not he supports Ukraine in the war?
Ukraine is at war. Hundreds of thousands of their citizens are fighting against the Russian invaders. Russians are destroying their cities, killing their families, and threatening the state’s sovereignty. For this reason, one can understand why President Zelenskiy wants to collect all the help he can get. That means weapons, rockets, drones, military equipment in the first place.
It is not only the Americans who receive a lot of criticism from Zelenskiy. The Ukrainian president also slams Germany quite frequently. The former disagrees with establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because Washington argues it would lead to WWIII. The latter made it clear that Berlin does not support Russian energy import bans because that would mean skyrocketing heating prices and an economic breakdown.
Hungary’s Orbán cleared almost at the beginning of the war that Hungary would help with everything but would not allow military equipment to cross its territory towards Ukraine. Furthermore, the current Hungarian government would not send soldiers to Ukraine either. Joint opposition’s Márki-Zay said he would do that provided NATO decided so.
Zelenskiy spoke directly to PM Orbán in his speech last Friday for minutes. He told him that he had been to Budapest many times and adored the city. He said that Russia committed mass killings in Mariupol which was similar to what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. “And you hesitate whether to impose sanctions or not? And you hesitate whether to let weapons through or not? There is no time to hesitate,” he concluded.
András Rácz, a research fellow at the Institute for Strategic and Defense Studies, replied to all that in a post. He said that Ukraine received hundreds of thousands of tonnes of weapons. Moreover, they got more than 20 thousand anti-tank rockets, 2,000 air defence missiles, sniper rifles, guns, ammunition, and self-protection equipment.
Hungary allowed such convoys containing lethal weapons to cross its territory. The Hungarian government only denied them crossing the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. However, if the shipment is non-lethal (e.g. personal protection equipment, fuel, etc.), they can go to Ukraine directly from Hungary.
As a result, Hungary helps Ukraine with everything except for allowing lethal weapons to cross its border with Ukraine. However, experts agree if somebody wanted to send such equipment to Ukraine, choosing the short Ukrainian-Hungarian border would be the worst decision. That is because the roads are terrible in Transcarpathia. Moreover, such equipment would have to cross the Carpathian mountains.
Regarding the question of the Russian energy import ban, the government believes that, without oil and gas, the economy would stop. That is the same as what Germany’s new leftist-green government says. Therefore, Berlin does not support such proposals either.
Finally, President Zelenskiy forgot to mention in his speech that Hungary welcomed and provided information, help, and care for more than half a million Ukrainian refugees. Furthermore, the country’s aid organisations sent tens of tonnes of food, medicine, hygiene products, etc. for Ukraine.
As a result, one can say that Hungary does everything the country is capable of in the current situation to help Ukraine and the Ukrainian citizens.