Hungary threatens to block all EU military aid to Ukraine
Hungary will not agree to any further EU financing of arms shipments to Ukraine unless Kiev removes the nation’s largest lender from its list of "sponsors of war," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a press conference on Tuesday. The minister blasted Ukraine for putting Hungary’s OTP bank on what he called a "list of shame," calling the move "outrageous" and "unacceptable."
"Our position is clear: until OTP [bank] is removed from this list, Hungary will not greenlight any additional EU funding for weapon shipments to Ukraine," the minister said. The decision will cover not just the €500 million ($546 million) tranche of arms Budapest vetoed earlier, but any further military assistance as well, he warned.
"It will be better if they [the EU] do not come up with any proposals to finance further arms deliveries," Szijjarto said.
Budapest is "doing everything to help the Ukrainian people," and Hungarians "are paying the price of a war they have nothing to do with," Szijjarto said following a meeting of the Hungarian-Jordanian joint economic committee. The official also called Kiev’s attitude toward Hungary puzzling. "We really sometimes have a feeling that they [the Ukrainians] are making fun of us," he said.
The minister also blasted the reasons for which Ukraine put OTP on its blacklist, saying: "we would like to laugh [at them] because these are ridiculous things that are brought up." At the same time, he called the situation around the Hungarian bank "serious," adding that Budapest is "rather horrified" over the development.
Hungary blocked an EU military aid tranche for Ukraine back in May, citing Kiev’s "increasingly hostile" attitude toward the country.
The money blocked by Budapest was part of the so-called European Peace Facility (EPF). The €5.6 billion ($6.08 billion) fund is used by the bloc to finance foreign militaries and reimburse its own members who send arms to foreign conflicts. Before the hostilities in Ukraine, the ‘Peace Facility’ had been used to supply non-lethal equipment to Georgia, Mali, Moldova, Mozambique, and Ukraine, for a total of less than $125 million.
Budapest has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and peace deal in Ukraine and criticized the EU for sending arms to Kiev. Hungary has also insisted that anti-Russia sanctions hurt Europe more than they hurt Russia. In June, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told the German tabloid Bild that a Ukrainian victory on the battlefield was "impossible."