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Russian aggression in Ukraine: Where does Hungary stand?

Author : Javor Benedek

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the Kerch Strait is a prime example of the Russian Federation's “slow expansion”. Without a decisive international reaction, it further expands the limits of Russia's maneuver, undermines international rules, destabilizes Ukraine and weakens the strength and authority of the Euro-Atlantic alliance system. Targeted and strong steps on sanctions are needed so that Vladimir Putin clearly understands: not a step further. Hungary cannot tack, and most importantly, it has no place on Moscow’s side in this matter. Viktor Orban must decide in whose league he plays. And Hungary has to decide whether it is heading east this season.
20:48, 10 December 2018

Reuters

The other day, Russian naval vessels detained and captured three patrol Ukrainian warships (two boats and a tug) in the Kerch Strait, which is recognized by the international waterway connecting the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea.

This action means an escalation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. As it was generally known, the Navy of Russia carried out an aggressive action against the Ukrainian army.

Russia not only tests the West by these actions, but also plays on its advantage in the war in Eastern Ukraine, thereby destabilizing it.

The EU and NATO must understand that they will not look quietly at the new and new maneuvers of Russia before they have to pay a much higher price to stop Putin.

As for Hungary, it came out at a crossroads: the policy of the "swing" was over. Soon we will stay on someone's side. This time, going against the Hungarian traditions, we should not land on the side of the aggressors and losers.

Related: Ukraine's inflation in November slowed down by 1,4%, increased by 10% at annual rate, - State stats


The significance of the Kerch Strait lies not only in the fact that the bridge built in violation of international law connects Crimea with Russia, which occupied it in 2014. It is important that the Strait connects the Black Sea with the two main Ukrainian ports of the Azov Sea - Mariupol and Berdyansk. The tight blockade of Russia can cause serious economic damage to Kyiv. In essence, this may turn the Sea of Azov divided between the two countries into the internal waters of Russia and lead to the fact that through Mariupol a land communication can be created with the territories of Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea, controlled by separatists (essentially functioning as puppet states of Russia). These actions fit perfectly into the “hidden expansion” Russian strategy. This can be interpreted as testing how long Ukraine and its Western allied system can experience this. This time, unlike the "strange green men" of unknown origin, Russia is in conflict with its regular forces.

The Ukrainian parliament gave a clear answer to the allegations that this was allegedly a Ukrainian political game aimed at postponing the spring presidential elections in Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada, which, in comparison with the Hungarian parliament, has real democratic control over the government, proclaimed martial law, proposed by President Poroshenko, for 30 days, and only to the eastern Ukrainian territories. And at the same time announced the presidential elections in March.

In this situation, Russia's expansion policy must be countered with unambiguous clear statements and actions by the EU and NATO with regard to the Kremlin. And Hungary should also clearly indicate on which side it is.

1) The current sanctions against Russia must be complemented by more specific and targeted elements that inflict tangible losses on Russia, and it must obviously pay for its aggressive move.

2) Any country that in the current situation generally raises the issue of lifting sanctions, such as, for example, in the recent past, it was raised several times by the Hungarian government, will stick a knife in the back of a country subjected to aggression. And it also means profit of Russia.

3) NATO must clearly understand that they will no longer assist the dismemberment of Ukraine.

Related: Kremlin led misinformation campaign before capture of Ukrainian vessels, - European Commissioner


4) Ukraine needs not only security guarantees from Russia, but also in response it is necessary to step up support for the country. Steps should be taken to accelerate Euro-Atlantic integration. In this regard, for the EU there are great opportunities for strengthening the weak and corrupt Ukrainian government and democratic institutions of Ukraine.

5) Germany and the EU should jointly suspend the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which clearly has one goal - the weakening of Ukraine and, as a result, the further growth of Russian influence and energy dependence on Moscow.

6) Hungary must strongly condemn the next Russian aggression against Ukraine, in contrast to its vile silence on the side of Moscow. Peter Siyarto should immediately announce at the international press conference that Hungary supports Ukraine, does not interfere with its further Euro-Atlantic integration and generally considers Russia responsible for the new incident, considers it necessary to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine, does not recognize the occupation of Crimea and will support new sanctions against Russia (after this step, the question of negotiations in language legislation can be raised again).

There are historical situations where it is impossible to get away from the clear position of the country and we must decisively take on someone’s side of the conflict. Now this is such a situation. Hungary, which in recent years has become famous for its obstacle to the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine, is increasingly coming to a hot friendship with Russia. But in fact, it has reached a dead end with its experiments in the policy of “swings” inside the system of the European Union and is now at a crossroads. Either we rally with our allies to stop the "slow expansion" of Russia, or we become its tool. Earlier we chose the position of minute advantage with great confidence, but aggression ultimately leads the country to the camp of the losers. The situation is so simple that the country does not have even a small benefit from the wrong decision. This may seem beneficial only for Victor Orban. He must decide what  is more important for him: the fate of the country or his own imperious interests. But the country must decide whether it will choose a long, painful path to the east together with Orban, or quickly sell the prime minister to the Russian championship, if he wants to play in their league, and return Hungary to the way home - to Europe.

Related: Court in occupied Crimea refuses to release Kurbedinov early

Related: Ukraine asks Russia to immediately report on Sentsov’s condition

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