Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 28.05.2018
Russia is expanding its war against Ukraine, including conducting hybrid warfare in the halls of NATO headquarters in Brussels. Mired in an invasion of Ukraine which has gone on for over four years, the Putin regime is desperate to ruin any cooperation between NATO allies and Ukraine, and to derail the move towards NATO membership which Ukraine is set upon.
NATO is nursing a viper in its bosom in the form of member state Hungary. Putin has a firm friend in Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and an anti-Ukrainian scourge in Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Inside NATO headquarters, Hungary has become an insidious agent of the Putin regime to bully Ukraine.
Hungary has been using its veto in NATO to block all ministerial level meetings with Ukraine, and to stymie the work of the NATO-Ukraine Commission. The Hungarian government claims it is thwarting cooperation because it doesn’t like Ukraine’s education law, a law which makes the Ukrainian language the primary one for instruction of Ukrainian citizens in state schools in Ukraine.
Most other NATO members are appalled at Hungary’s behaviour. It had been hoped that the end of the Hungarian election would see a return to normalcy on the part of the Orbán government, and quiet diplomacy had been the order of the day in NATO headquarters. But on May 25 Hungary sent a document to all NATO members which called for a review of every support program NATO has for Ukraine.
One of the most successful support programs NATO has for Ukraine is to conduct military training to NATO standards with the Ukrainian armed forces. The United States, Canada, and Lithuania are substantial contributors to the training program at Yavoriv in western Ukraine. On May 26, Lithuania and Canada said that they had had enough of Hungary’s obstructionism, and quiet diplomacy changed to open criticism. Talking about Hungary, the Canadian delegate to NATO said: “The blocking by one country of the process of Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine looks very problematic to us and surprising from a political point of view.” The representative of Canada flatly denied as groundless the claims of the Hungarian government that there is something abnormal about education and respect for national minorities in Ukraine. He said there is nothing strange in the revision of domestic legislation in Ukraine for the sake of teaching in the national language, and that this is a normal condition that is done in all countries. Hungary is going nowhere with its argument that the Hungarian minority in Ukraine is being oppressed by an education law that fosters the native language. In fact, Latvia is making effective an education law to bring about teaching in state schools that is predominantly in Latvian. Latvia is a member of NATO.
The language used in the document Hungary sent to NATO members reached a new level of anti-Ukrainian hysteria. “The Ukrainian state has become so weak that it is incapable of fulfilling such fundamental obligations as the protection of the rule of law, and economic, social and political leadership,” wrote the Hungarian government.
Such language was last used in Europe when the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September 1939. A diplomatic note passed by the Soviet government to the Polish ambassador in Moscow on 17 September 1939 began: “The Polish-German war has revealed the internal insolvency of the Polish State.” Here is how the diplomatic note justified the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland: “Abandoned to her fate and left without leadership, Poland has become a fertile field for any accidental and unexpected contingency which may create a menace to the U.S.S.R. Hence, while it was neutral hitherto, the Soviet Government can no longer maintain a neutral attitude toward these facts. Nor can the Soviet Government remain indifferent when its blood brothers, Ukranians and Belarusians in Polish territory, having been abandoned to their fate, are left without protection.”
In 1939, the Soviet Union called Poland a fascist state to justify its invasion. In 2014, Russia called Ukraine a Nazi regime to justify its invasion. The Soviet Union falsely claimed it was protecting Ukrainians and Belarusians even though its only purpose was to invade and partially occupy the eastern half of Poland. Russia falsely claims it is protecting Russians even though its only purpose is to invade and occupy Crimea and part of Donbas in Ukraine. Hungary falsely claims it is protecting the Hungarian minority in Zakarpattia in Ukraine, even though its only purpose is to ruin the plans of NATO and Ukraine to cooperate and the plans of the EU and Ukraine to cooperate.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at a press conference on March 1: “Ukraine cannot be taken seriously as a country that truly wants to forge closer links to the EU and NATO.” Hungary’s foreign policy with respect to Ukraine is aligning with that of Russia. A Ukraine that “cannot be taken seriously” by Hungary is the same as a Ukraine that is “not a real country” to Russia. Hungary has vowed to block all of Kyiv’s international, European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations – this was stated by Foreign Minister Szijjártó on March 19.
Hungary’s veto at NATO must taken away. If the only way to do that is to suspend Hungary’s membership in the North Atlantic alliance then so be it. The Orbán-Szijjártó attack on Ukraine is an attack on NATO collective security and it must be stopped. The real front line of NATO member countries’ self-defence against Russian aggression lies in Ukraine. If Hungary is allowed to continue its obstruction in Moscow’s interest then the NATO alliance will be divided and weak, and in no shape to meet the expansion of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Justifying its implacable anti-Ukrainian policy, Hungary is adding to its rhetoric that Ukraine’s education law oppresses the Hungarian minority. Now Hungary is joining Russia in saying that Ukraine is a failed state. The arc of propaganda from ‘saving ethnic minorities in Ukraine’ to ‘Ukraine is a failed state’ carries through from Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea to Russia’s invasion and partial occupation of Donbas. The Hungarian government is telling the lie that Ukraine is a failed state in the halls of NATO headquarters not because it expects to be believed, but because it is now acting as Russia’s agent of chaos. NATO is nursing a viper in its bosom in the form of member state Hungary. To save collective security and the NATO alliance itself, Hungary must be stopped.