Hungarian PM warns of wave of refugees if Russia invades Ukraine
Hungary’s nationalist prime minister has warned of the possibility of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees entering his country in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s nationalist prime minister warned on Saturday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees across the border into his country.
Right-wing populist leader Viktor Orban, speaking in an annual speech which kicked off his political campaign this year for Hungary’s April 3 parliamentary elections, called for a peaceful resolution to rising tensions in Europe stemming from fears of imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Orban – a staunch opponent of any kind of immigration – said it was in Hungary’s interest “to avoid war”, which he said would cause a wave of Ukrainian refugees and disruption of the economy.
While calling for a resolution of tensions through dialogue, Orban said he opposed European Union plans to use sanctions against Russia – which has amassed more than 100,000 troops along Russia’s borders. Ukraine – as a deterrent.
“Sanctions, punitive policies, sermons or any other form of arrogance on the part of major powers are out of the question,” Orban said.
Orban, who has ruled Hungary since 2010, has sought one of the closest relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin of any European leader. During a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin last week, Orban pushed for increased gas shipments from Russia and welcomed his country’s increased cooperation with Moscow in energy, trade and of security.
Since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, Hungary under Orban has consistently opposed the leveling of EU sanctions against Moscow, although it has always ultimately voted for them.
Hungary has also blocked ministerial meetings between Ukraine and NATO over a Ukrainian language law that Budapest says violates the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority in western Ukraine.
Yet on Saturday, Orban said Ukraine served as a crucial buffer zone between Hungary and Russia and that “its independence and viability are therefore in Hungary’s direct interest”.
Stating that “Europe’s military strength should at least be comparable to Russia’s,” Orban said Hungary supports the development of European military capabilities and a common European defense force.
Hungary has refused to accept military reinforcements from NATO and the United States – which have been mobilized from several other Eastern European countries in response to the buildup of Russian troops along the EU’s borders. ‘Ukraine. He says that the Hungarian national army is enough to protect the country.
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