February 19, 2023 As tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine, and several European countries pledge to support Kyiv with military aid, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken a different stance. He has vowed to maintain relations with Moscow, saying that cutting off ties with Russia would not be in Hungary’s national interest.
Orban delivered his annual state of the nation speech on Saturday, February 18, 2023, where he criticized the European Union for prolonging the war in Ukraine by imposing sanctions on Russia. He said that Europe was “indirectly at war with Russia” and “drifting into” a conflict between two Slavic countries.
He also said that Hungary would continue to trade with Russia, especially in the energy sector. Hungary is heavily reliant on Russia for its natural gas supplies and has signed a deal with Moscow to expand its sole nuclear power plant. Orban argued that maintaining economic relations with Russia was essential for Hungary’s sovereignty and security.
Orban’s remarks have drawn criticism from some of his fellow EU leaders, who have accused him of undermining the bloc’s unity and solidarity with Ukraine. Orban has often clashed with Brussels over issues such as migration, the of law, and media freedom. He has also cultivated close ties with authoritarian leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Orban said that while he supported providing humanitarian aid and refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the war, he disagreed with sending weapons or troops to Kyiv. He said such actions would only escalate the violence and endanger Europe’s peace.
A Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) report explains that Russian President Putin has expressed an interest in Russia becoming the ideological center of a new global conservative alliance, and European far-right leaders have taken pro-Russian positions based on a similar ideology. According to the report. Hungary is at the center of a developing alliance between European far-right nationalists and American conservatives that Russia could potentially exploit for use in information warfare. This alliance operates under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” centered on national sovereignty, cultural identity, and opposition to global institutions and representing a potentially radical change for the US conservative movement away from long-held Reagan-era philosophies.