The Hungarian Defence Forces are prepared to accept refugees fleeing from Ukraine to Hungary, Defense Minister Tibor Benkő told ATV News on Wednesday evening. The Minister emphasized that the Hungarian government supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, and continues to support a peaceful, diplomatic solution. Unfortunately, given the rapidly developing outbreak of a war, Russian bombings, and civilians leaving Kiev en masse, Hungarian forces must be prepared for the situation.
In terms of the role Hungarian Defence Forces play in the current war between Ukraine and Russia, Tibor Benkő said that the primary concern is maintaining the security of Hungarian citizens and ensuring the safe entry of refugees fleeing the conflict. Upon entry to Hungary, refugees will be attended to and provided aid.
In terms of how they will ensure safe entry across the eastern border, the Minister said that in cooperation with the Interior Ministry, the forces are analyzing where refugees’ entry to Hungary can be expected. This way they can open those border sections up for safe passage, otherwise people fleeing will be met with sections of the border that have been closed off for security reasons.
The second task is to set up checkpoints to determine whether those fleeing are armed or unarmed, whether they are injured, wounded or sick. On this basis, the military will be able to determine where those individuals need to sent in Hungary.
We’re not trying to bring them into large refugee camps with everyone being sent to one spot, everyone, in accordance with their situation, must be sent to the most appropriate and best-fitting surroundings.”
It may occur that armed individuals enter such checkpoints as deserters, Benkő explained. In these cases, there are rules governing appropriate protocol for ensuring secure processing. He added that Hungarian forces have experience in handling such situations.
It’s difficult to determine at the moment exactly how many refugees will be entering Hungary, but the Defence Minister stated that Hungarian forces must be prepared to accept tens of thousands.
In the case of the conflict extending past Kiev and into western Ukraine, Benkő brought up the possibility of armed, non-deserters being pushed towards Hungarian territory.
In such a case, the Hungarian military’s priority of protecting national borders and national security must be ensured, and the entry of foreign powers cannot be allowed. The Defence Minister reiterated the government’s emphasis on finding a peaceful resolution, saying that such a point must not be reached.
In the featured photo illustration: Kyiv residents leaving the city en masse. Photo by MTI/AP/Yevhen Maloletka