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11 Feb, 2024 14:40

Ukraine should be a ‘buffer zone’ – EU state’s PM

Russia would never accept a NATO member like Kiev on its doorstep, Hungary’s Viktor Orban has said
Ukraine should be a ‘buffer zone’ – EU state’s PM

Ukraine’s best geopolitical bet would be to become a “buffer zone” between Russia and the West, under arrangements made to guarantee the country’s future security, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

The Hungarian premier made the remarks while debating former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, with excerpts from the exchange published by the Vienna daily Die Presse.

Orban disagreed with Schussel’s contention that the Ukraine crisis could be solved only if the immediate start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO coincided with the start of ceasefire talks.

[BQ] Whether we like it or not, whether Ukrainians like it or not, Ukraine is on the map where it is. The best prospect for it would be to form a buffer zone between Russia and the West – with security guarantees, of course.

In any other case, according to the prime minister, “Ukraine will lose its land,” and “the Russians will destroy Ukraine again and again.” He stressed that Moscow would “never accept an EU and NATO member like Ukraine on its doorstep.”

Orban also rejected claims by officials in Brussels and Kiev that Ukraine is “defending” Europe. “Ukraine offers Europeans no additional security because most of us are already members of NATO, which is much stronger than Russia,” he stated, adding that there is “no risk” that Russia could attack a bloc member.

He also pushed back against Schussel’s argument that a ceasefire would mean a de facto defeat for Ukraine, saying that this depends on how a person sees the future as Kiev could potentially lose more territory.

According to Orban, the EU is also in no position to provide Ukraine with an adequate amount of weapons and money, adding that the bloc’s citizens are “dissatisfied because their governments are giving Ukraine more and more financial support”.

Russia has repeatedly voiced concerns about NATO’s unchecked expansion towards its borders after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with President Vladimir Putin citing Ukraine’s push to join the alliance as one of the key reasons for the current conflict.

In December 2021, weeks before the start of the hostilities, Moscow submitted a draft of security guarantees to the US and NATO, demanding that the West ban Kiev’s accession to the military bloc and retreat to its borders as of 1997. The overture, however, was rebuffed.

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