Hungary dismissed as “fake news” allegations made by a high-level Ukrainian official that Budapest had been warned by Russian President Vladimir Putin of his intention to invade Ukraine and was even planning to annex part of its neighbour’s territory.
Local media quoted on Monday (2 May) the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, Oleksiy Danilov, as saying Hungary knew an attack on Ukraine was being prepared.
“Hungary openly declares its cooperation with the Russian Federation. Moreover, it was warned by Putin in advance that there would be attacks on our country. You saw its position,” Danilov said, according to UNIAN.
Danilov also claimed that Budapest, which had an estimated 140,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine’s Transcarpathia before the war, was planning to annex part of its northeastern neighbour’s territory.
“Well, we will see what consequences after this war will be for this country,” Danilov added.
Describing the reports as fake news, the Hungarian secretary of state for international communication and relations, Zoltán Kovács, said the allegations were a response to Hungary’s continued policy of refusing to provide Ukraine with weapons.
Hungary continues to maintain its policy of not sending weapons to Ukraine and not allowing lethal weapons to transit its territory because of what it sees as a risk of becoming embroiled in the war.
“While we understand that Ukraine does not welcome our decision, spreading fake news and coming up with lies will not change our position,” Kovács wrote on Twitter.
Responding to fake news: On April 3, Hungarians decided that HU will not ship weapons to Ukraine. While we understand that UKR does not welcome our decision, spreading fake news and coming up with lies will not change our position. https://t.co/Zdbq3gKf8n
— Zoltan Kovacs (@zoltanspox) May 3, 2022
While Hungary voted in favour of all packages of EU sanctions imposed on Russia so far, it at first vehemently opposed sanctions targeting energy imports, although EURACTIV understands Budapest has now softened its stance and an EU oil embargo is expected to be announced tomorrow (4 May).
Budapest has also previously broken ranks with its EU peers by saying it was prepared to comply with Moscow’s demands to be paid in roubles for its gas exports.
In March, Hungary was forced to cancel a Visegrad 4 defence ministers meeting after both Poland and Czechia pulled out over Budapest’s lukewarm support for EU action against Moscow.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Italian daily Corriere Della Sera published on Tuesday (3 May), Pope Francis said the Hungarian prime minister had told him during an audience that “the Russians have a plan, and that everything will end on 9 May” — comments that seem to suggest Orbán might indeed have some insight into Russia’s planning.
After the parliamentary elections of 3 April, the newly re-elected Orbán broke tradition and instead of making his first visit abroad to Poland, as he has done after every victory since 2010, he visited the leader of the Catholic Church, as well as Italy’s far-right Lega leader Matteo Salvini.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]