Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 17.11.2018
Ukraine is a free, independent, and sovereign nation. It can make and enforce its own laws, choose its own alliances, defend its own territory, and elect its own leaders.
Two of Ukraine’s neighbours work to undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Russian Federation and Hungary both act on the premise that Ukraine is “not a real country” and is not entitled to mutual respect in the family of nations. The Russian Federation is at war with Ukraine, and has invaded and occupied Crimea and part of Donbas. Hungary is aggressively interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine in Zakarpattia and is blocking all high-level engagement between Ukraine and the European Union and between Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Ukraine will have very important presidential and then parliamentary elections in 2019. This week, Russian Federation dictator Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made almost simultaneous announcements about how they plan to interfere in Ukraine’s elections. Both men expressed great animosity towards Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. They indirectly stated they will work in the interests of any other leader who will be open to ceding Ukrainian territory and sovereignty if he or she is elected.
Both authoritarians adopted the false mask of punditry, but they are both political actors. Putin and Orbán have already begun to interfere in Ukraine’s election. The Russian Federation and Hungary are both working against the legacy of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and against the path to Europe the Ukrainian people chose for themselves.
Putin talked about the government of Ukraine under President Poroshenko that was elected in 2014: “As long as such people are in power in Kyiv, one can hardly count on a peaceful solution of the issue in these territories.” He was referring to parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine which Russia invaded and occupied in April 2014. “If someone else comes, they will probably take into account what's happening at the moment.”
What’s “happening at the moment” is that Russia is now waging war on the battlefront in eastern Ukraine into the fifth year. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation shell and rocket and shoot and assault Ukrainian defenders and civilians every single day. Unlimited arms, ammunition, supplies and troops pour across the border which the Russian Federation has seized. On November 11, the Kremlin occupation regime conducted fake ‘elections’ to affirm pre-selected figureheads for the local administration.
The fake ‘election’ is a direct violation by the Russian Federation of Article 4 of the Minsk Agreement of 11 February 2015. Putin has violated every article of the Minsk accord and broken every ceasefire. The guarantor states, Germany and France, have never imposed any penalty on the Russian Federation. In his threatening remarks against Ukrainian democracy this week, Putin said he will refuse all ‘Normandy format’ meetings held under the terms of the Minsk Agreement until after the Ukrainian election.
Putin will go all out to interfere in the Ukrainian election, cause the defeat of Petro Poroshenko, bring a pro-Kremlin candidate to power in Ukraine who will be as compliant as Viktor Yanukovych was, and then carve up Ukrainian territory to achieve his war aims. If he is not stopped, Putin will obliterate Ukraine as a free, independent, and sovereign nation.
Viktor Orbán is not hiding his Kremlin puppet status these days. The Hungarian government under Orbán is undermining Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity with many of the same weapons of hybrid warfare that the Russian Federation uses. Passportization is one such weapon. Hungary is attempting to alienate the loyalty of Ukrainian citizens in Zakarpattia who are of Hungarian heritage by secretly and illegally giving them Hungarian passports. Hungary has chosen an innocuous new education law to bash Ukraine with. Ukraine wants to teach Ukrainian students in Ukrainian schools primarily in the state language, which is Ukrainian. Such education laws exist in every other European nation, including Hungary. The Orbán regime hates this, because it refuses to treat people of Hungarian heritage who are Ukrainian citizens as Ukrainians.
Like Putin, Orbán wants “agreement” only on his own terms. That means capitulation. In remarks timed to co-ordinate with Putin’s, Orbán said that with the current leadership in Ukraine he “doesn’t see a chance for any agreement.” Referring to the coming presidential elections, he said “if the situation doesn't get worse until then, it would be a great achievement in itself. After then we’ll see if the current anti-Hungarian course continues, or if there will emerge a presidential administration that wants to cooperate with Hungary."
Like the Russian Federation, Hungary has stated that it will continue on its anti-Ukrainian path until the elections – in which it hopes to manipulate the result. Hungary will continue to obstruct Ukraine’s chosen path to NATO and to the EU. Hungary will continue to secretly and illegally issue Hungarian passports for Ukraine's citizens. Hungary will continue to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs about education and language. Hungary will continue to refer to Ukrainian citizens in Zakarpattia who are of Hungarian heritage as “Hungarians.”
Minsk guarantors Germany and France are not bringing the Russian Federation to account. Therefore Putin will continue to wage war against Ukraine and he will interfere in Ukraine’s elections.
The EU and NATO are not bringing Hungary to account. Therefore Orbán will continue to subvert Ukrainian sovereignty in Zakarpattia and he will interfere in Ukraine’s elections.