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4 Mar, 2024 17:06

NATO state ‘betting’ on Trump victory – PM

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that the former US president offers “the only chance” for a peace deal in Ukraine
NATO state ‘betting’ on Trump victory – PM

Hungary is “betting on the return of Donald Trump” to halt the Ukraine conflict with a peace deal, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday. Orban, a long-time ally of Trump, is set to meet with the former US president in Florida this week.

Speaking at an economic forum in Budapest, Orban explained his interest in a swift resolution to the two-year conflict. Hungary, which is a member of NATO and borders Ukraine, has long sought to keep a neutral country in between itself and Russia, he said, adding that “as time goes by, the Russians are gaining more and more territory and are getting closer to the Hungarian border, which is completely against our interests.”

“The only reasonable behavior on the part of the Hungarian government is to bet on the return of Donald Trump,” he declared. “The only chance of the world for a relatively fast peace deal is political change in the United States, and this is linked to who is the president.”

Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee to take on President Joe Biden in November’s election, and is currently leading his Democrat rival in nearly all recent polls. Trump has repeatedly promised during his campaign that he would settle the Ukraine conflict “within 24 hours” of taking office, suggesting last year that he would use US aid as leverage to force Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to sit down and negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Trump has recently expressed some willingness to continue military aid to Zelensky, arguing last month that Ukraine could be lent, rather than given, the money, and that NATO’s European members should “pay up” and match Washington’s contributions to Kiev.

Orban has refused to supply Ukraine with arms or to allow weapons to enter Ukraine via Hungarian soil. He has also opposed EU sanctions on Russia, arguing that they hurt the European economy more than Russia’s, and has agreed to the repeated packages of economic penalties only after securing certain exemptions and concessions for Hungary.

Orban was the first foreign leader to endorse Trump’s successful 2016 campaign, and backed Trump’s reelection bid in 2020. The Hungarian PM endorsed Trump’s current run for the White House last year, saying at the time that “if President Trump were president today there’d be no war afflicting Europe and Ukraine. Come back, Mr. President, make America great again and bring us peace.”

Trump and Orban last met in New Jersey in 2022, and the two will come face to face again on Friday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Trump has praised Orban as a “great leader” and a “strong man,” and endorsed his reelection campaign two years ago. 

In office since 2010, Orban has forged close links with the American right, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the US and hosting a Hungarian offshoot of the influential conference every year since 2022.