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Hungary accused of selling weapons to Ukraine

August 22nd, 2014

As Moscow accuses Hungary of arming Ukraine, a pro-government columnist calls for caution in foreign affairs. According to a conservative commentator and a moderate online news site, on the other hand, the false accusations show that Hungary’s attempt at maintaining a balanced approach in foreign affairs has been a failure.

In a press release last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Hungary of selling arms, including tanks, to Ukraine. The statement was based on a report on a minor Hungarian far-right online news site. The Hungarian government rejected the accusations and said that Hungary had sold only obsolete and unserviceable T-72 tanks to Ukraine as part of a tender deal announced last summer, well ahead of the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. The government added that the tanks are still in Hungary, and have not been delivered to Ukraine. The parliamentary Committees on National Security and of Foreign Affairs discussed the case on Thursday and found that no tanks have been delivered to Ukraine or any other country.

Magyar Nemzet’s István Pataky finds it weird that Moscow has given credit to a report by a practically unknown far-right website despite the Hungarian government’s clear rejection of the accusations.  He warns however against making up conspiracy theories on the possible background of the false announcement. “It is too early to guess whose interest it serves to suggest that the Orbán government (which has often been wrongly accused by the West and the Hungarian Left of pro-Russian inclinations) is arming Kiev,” Pataky maintains. As Hungary should be concerned about the Hungarian minority living in Transcarpathia, the Orbán government needs to stay calm and patient, he suggests.

Moscow’s accusations are part of the information war being fought between Russia and the West, Index.hu quotes Russian and Hungarian foreign affairs experts as saying. By accusing Hungary, a NATO member country of selling weapons to Ukraine, Moscow wants to blur its own role in arming pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, the unnamed analysts believe. Index.hu notes that the spread of false information was a tactical weapon often used by the KGB. Index considers the incident as  an indication of the failure of Hungary’s compromising attitude towards Russia.

In Heti Válasz, Bálint Ablonczy wonders if Hungary has become Russia’s useful idiot. The conservative columnist interprets Moscow’s accusations as a sign that Russia does not regard Hungary as an equal partner, but rather wants to use it unscrupulously if its interests so require. Moscow does nothing whatsoever to reward Hungary’s ‘Eastern opening’ policy, Ablonczy remarks. He finds it more than awkward that while Hungary is now portrayed as a pro-Russia state by its Western allies, Moscow simply takes advantage of Hungary. Such a position, Ablonczy concludes, restricts Hungary’s options to pursue its national interest.

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