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19 Jul, 2022 17:42

Hungary has changed mind on Ukraine weapons – media

Hungary is no longer opposed to military aid passing through its territory, Ukrainian officials say
Hungary has changed mind on Ukraine weapons – media

Hungary will no longer block the transit of foreign weapons and other military aid intended for Kiev through its territory, Ukrainian media reported on Tuesday, citing the Lviv city council. The western Ukrainian city was visited by Hungary’s Deputy Foreign Minister Magyar Levente, who reportedly communicated the change in Budapest’s official position to the local mayor.

Hungary itself will not send weapons to Ukraine, but “third countries can use our territory,” Levente was quoted as saying by the Lviv authorities. Budapest will also open its hospitals to Ukrainian military personnel and civilians, while providing 1,000 scholarships for Ukrainians at Hungarian universities, according to the report.

Earlier this month, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijarto insisted that his country would not allow weapons to transit through its territory, because that would endanger humanitarian aid deliveries and the safety of ethnic Hungarians living on the other side of the border.

“We don’t want [Russians] to shoot at the areas where Hungarians live, that’s why we would not like to get involved in this conflict,” Szijarto told CNN on July 5.

Szijarto did not comment on the Ukrainian report on Tuesday, as he traveled to New York, where he is expected to attend a session of the UN Security Council. The most recent Ukraine-related post on his Facebook page, which he uses to communicate with the public. His most recent post referencing the situation in Ukraine, criticized, the EU for focusing on sanctions instead of trying to make peace.

However, Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Paczolay Mate issued a statement clarifying that nothing has changed in Budapest’s position on the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.

“Hungary's position regarding the delivery of weapons to Ukraine has been clear from the beginning: we do not send soldiers or weapons to Ukraine, and we do not allow weapons to cross the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. This position remains unchanged,” Mate wrote.

According to the Lviv city council, Levente told Mayor Andrey Sadovoy that Hungary sympathized with Ukraine because it had been at war “to the death” with Russia three times over the past 200 years – presumably a reference to both world wars as well as the 1848 revolt against the Habsburg crown, which Russia helped quash as part of the Holy Alliance commitment to Austria. 

Kiev has repeatedly criticized Budapest for insufficiently supporting the Ukrainian cause. Meanwhile, Orban has argued that EU sanctions against Russia were destroying the bloc’s own economy rather than hurting Moscow, while the speaker of the Hungarian parliament claimed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had a “mental problem” because he went around threatening the countries whose help he needed.