Give Russia security guarantees for lasting peace in Ukraine, Hungary says

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The West should give Russia security guarantees and ban Ukraine from joining NATO, a senior Hungarian minister said on Sunday in comments likely to further strain Budapest’s already rocky relations with Kyiv.

To ensure lasting peace, “the Western world that supports Ukraine must give security guarantees to Russia, but definitely not NATO membership to the Ukrainians,” said Gergely Gulyás, minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, at a university event.

The remarks echoed comments by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán last week that the West “should make a deal with the Russians on the new security architecture to provide security and sovereignty for Ukraine but not membership in NATO.” He also said Ukraine has no chance of winning the war. In June, Orbán said that Kyiv was “no longer a sovereign state” and financially “non-existent,” sparking fury from Ukraine.

“Ukraine does not trade its territories or sovereignty,” Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesperson at Kyiv’s foreign ministry, said in response to Orbán’s most recent comments.

The repeated calls for giving Moscow security guarantees are likely to further fuel tensions between Hungary and Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers last week were unable to green-light an eighth tranche of military aid for Ukraine worth €500 million after Hungary blocked the disbursement of funds on the grounds that Kyiv had designated Budapest’s OTP bank an international sponsor of war.

Still, in a sign that Hungary wants to avoid a total collapse in relations, Hungarian President Katalin Novák visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month in a bid to improve bilateral ties.

Since 2018, Hungary has blocked Ukraine attending NATO ministerial-level meetings over claims Kyiv is discriminating against Hungarian ethnic minorities by limiting their rights to education in their native tongue.

Meanwhile, Hungarian lawmakers continue to delay the ratification of Sweden’s entry to NATO. While admitting the military alliance would become stronger if Sweden joined, Gulyás said Sunday that Budapest first wanted clarification from Stockholm on previous comments where it “accused our country with unworthy and baseless accusations.”