“Everyone knows very well who in the European Union opposes humanity and common sense, and who does nothing at all to help establish peace in Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to the Danish parliament on Tuesday, yet again roundly criticizing the Orbán government’s policy towards Ukraine. The President of Ukraine deemed it unacceptable that some countries are internally dividing the EU and even now are trying to help Russia.
“It would be simply impossible for a normal person to imagine the level of evil that was brought to our land! That is why I call on you to raise the issue of solidarity in the defense of freedom, in the defense of humanity at the level of the European Union,” Volodymyr Zelensky said.
“There can be no Russian branches in Europe that divide the EU from within, that are trying to help Russia make as much money as possible even now. Everyone knows very well who in the European Union opposes humanity and common sense, and who does nothing at all to help establish peace in Ukraine. This must stop, and Europe must stop listening to the excuses of Budapest,” he said.
The President of Ukraine had already used a sharp tone last week as he believes Hungary is reluctant to support harsher, mostly energy-focused sanctions against Russia.
At Thursday’s EU summit, Zelensky directly asked Viktor Orbán if he knew what was happening in Mariupol. “Listen, Viktor, do you know what’s going on in Mariupol? And you hesitate whether to impose sanctions or not? And you hesitate whether to let weapons through or not? And you hesitate whether to trade with Russia or not? There is no time to hesitate. It’s time to decide already.”
In his response at the time, the Hungarian Prime Minister rejected Zelensky’s requests, saying that they would be the opposite of Hungary’s interests. Orbán’s press chief said Zelenksy’s first request was that Hungary should support the extension of sanctions to the energy sector and stop buying gas and oil from Russia. And his second request, according to Orbán, was that Hungary should allow arms shipments and send weapons [directly] to Ukraine.” At the same time, Hungary is helping those fleeing the war “with every tool at its disposal, extending humanitarian aid to them.”
Ukraine does not want Hungarian soldiers to go fight for them
“Ukraine is not asking Hungarian soldiers to come and fight for us! We have not asked for this, and we are not asking for this now, either,” Ljubov Nepop, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Hungary, said in Budapest on Tuesday, at the opening of a public exhibition of photos taken by Ukrainian refugees of the horrors of the war.
According to news site RTL, Nepop thanked Hungary and the Hungarian people for their solidarity but said more support was needed. She noted that even if Hungary does not support a no-fly zone over Ukraine (neither do any other NATO members – ed.) and does not want to provide weapons, they could at least send helmets and bulletproof vests to the Ukrainians.
Ukraine does not want the Hungarian economy to be paralyzed, so instead of Hungarian-Russian sanctions, they are calling for EU sanctions to alleviate the damage to the countries, she added.
Ukraine is not asking for Hungarian soldiers to go to battle, the ambassador stressed, adding that she does not understand why this issue is being raised again and again. Ukraine wants peace, but Russia has attacked them and if they do not fight and do nothing, it will lead not to peace but to the annexation of Ukraine, Nepop warned.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry to Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó: It is immoral to speculate on the plight of Ukrainians
On Tuesday, Péter Szijjártó accused opposition PM candidate Péter Márki-Zay (without any concrete evidence) that the opposition politician had agreed with Zelenksy on the transfer of Hungarian weapons to Ukraine. Márki-Zay said he had not even spoken to the Ukrainian president.
Afterward, a Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman issued a statement saying that it was “immoral to speculate on the plight of Ukrainians to get political dividends ahead of parliamentary elections.”
“We categorically reject Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó’s attempts to involve Ukraine in the domestic political struggle in Hungary,” Oleg Nikolenko said on Facebook.
Nikolenko stressed that Ukraine has never interfered in Hungary’s internal affairs and will not do so in the future.
“The actions of Hungarian politicians will ultimately be judged by the Hungarian people and history.”
Ukraine calls on the Hungarian leadership “to abandon its previous brisk rapprochement with Russia and to recognize the obvious fact that without peace and security in Ukraine there will be no peace and security in Hungary,” the spokesman said.
The Hungarian government and Viktor Orbán have been roundly lambasted by Czech and Polish politicians in recent days; even the defense summit of the Visegrad Group in Budapest was canceled after Poland and Czechia pulled out due to Hungary’s Ukraine policy.
There is no doubt that the Hungarian government has been most vocal in recent weeks about their refusal to support sanctions on the energy import from Russia. However, several other EU countries, including Germany and Bulgaria, do not support banning Russian natural gas and oil imports either. Meanwhile, Hungary has so far approved every proposal that has shown European unity. Viktor Orbán even supported a proposal of the EU Council to bring those Russian leaders responsible for the war to justice.
Orbán: We support Ukraine, but what they are asking would ruin us
In recent days, the Hungarian Prime Minister has responded several times to the criticism of Hungary’s Ukraine policy. In a radio interview on Sunday, for example, he said in response to President Zelensky’s remarks at the EU summit that there was nothing extraordinary about the President’s scathing tone, and that his behavior was not unjustified. “I understand what he is saying,” Orbán added.
Speaking about the EU summit, Orbán recalled that four lists of sanctions against Russia have been adopted so far. On the issue of the ban on gas and oil imports, he said that Germans and Austrians are in the same boat as Hungary, so if no German or Russian gas or oil comes in, the German or Austrian economies will grind to a halt.
The Prime Minister said that the situation is not how it is described by the Ukrainians, that Hungary could simply import gas more expensively. It is about “either there’s gas or there isn’t. Because they are delivered by pipeline to Germany and Austria, mostly. And it comes into Hungary through a pipeline. So there’s no question of gas and oil still coming, but at a slightly higher cost.”
“For Hungary, the question is not whether it’s willing to help Ukraine by paying a little more for energy, because we’d be willing to do that; the question is whether the supplies come at all.”
The Prime Minister underscored that “more than 60 percent of all the oil used in Hungary can only be obtained from Russia.” This also includes fuel in our country, he added. “Hungary’s refineries are developed for this type of oil. If we want to switch to some other kind of oil, we will have to rebuild the refineries in Hungary, which would take several years.”
“So what the Ukrainians are asking us to do would mean no fuel and gas in Hungary.”
If there is no oil and gas, the Hungarian economy will slow down and come to a stop within a few months. And then factories will have to close, unemployment will start to rise. “So what the Ukrainians are asking for is nothing less than a complete shutdown of the Hungarian economy, that we again lose years of development, and that Hungarian economic performance falls back to the level of eight, ten, or however many years ago,” the Prime Minister said. “We support them, we will do everything we can, but they cannot ask us to ruin ourselves for them.”
Featured photo illustration by MTI/AP/Press Office of the Ukrainian President