By Bence Janek
In mid-August 2014, Russia accused Hungary of delivering tanks to support the Ukrainian army. Naive people may have thought that the Hungarian government would have sturdily defended the country against the political provocation, but they were wrong.
The official statement appeared on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Aug. 18, 2014. According to the Ministry, Hungary transported eight T-72 type tanks to Ukraine to support them in the war against the Russian separatists. The statement also explained that Hungary violated EU rules on arms exports. The case did not end here. At the beginning of September 2014, comrade Vyacheslav Nikonov, a Kremlin politician, continued the provocation on CNN. He declared that Hungary was commanded by the United States. Some may think the Russian accusation is crazed bullshit, but the Hungarian government was too cowardly to make a strong-willed answer.
Here’s what the Hungarian Ministry could have mentioned:
Ukraine does not need any Hungarian tanks, especially not eight T-72 types. The Ukrainian army has approximately 1,700 tanks whose conditions are light years better than the trashy Hungarian ones. As reported by Index.hu, the price of each tank is approximately two million HUF (US$8,200). Even in the best case, if someone were to repair these vehicles, they could be only used for corn ploughing in Ethiopia. Not to mention that tanks are absolutely useless in the guerrilla warfare that is happening in Ukraine.
Additionally, Ukraine produces tanks in the Malyshev Factory at Kharkiv northeast, a famous factory that produced engines for Pakistan and modernized Soviet tanks of the Unites Arab Emirates in 2000 (globalsecurity.org).
Ignoring these arguments, the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a five-line statement which claimed that Hungary did not ship military technology to Ukraine, a reaction that differed from past conflicts. On the other hand, when the government has a conflict with the European Union, they can spend hundreds of millions of HUF in public money for propaganda posters, demonstrations, and television advertisements. The case contradicts previous Hungarian foreign policy actions.
Unfortunately, this case fits into past events which characterized Hungarian foreign policy about Russia. A few weeks ago, Laszló Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly (Fidesz), called the Ukrainian crisis fake, and said that “the purpose of this hysteria is to divide Europe and Russia” (politics.hu). In early September 2014, Kövér also vacuously declared that Ukraine does not exist. On Aug. 15, 2014, Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, said that he strongly opposed the E.U. economic sanctions against Russia. Moreover, in January 2014, the Second Cabinet of Orbán signed a pact with the Kremlin to develop the Paks Nuclear Power Plant.
After the adulation and contract, the Russian accusation is particularly striking. Putin would probably be happy if he could prove that a country from the E.U. supports the Ukrainian army. The question is why he is doing it with a loyal ally…