Hungary blocks next tranche of EU military support for Ukraine

Hungary blocks next tranche of EU military support for Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's first meeting since the outbreak of the war only took place in February 2023. / bne IntelliNews
By Tamas Csonka in Budapest May 17, 2023

Hungary has blocked the disbursement of the eighth installment of the European Peace Facility (EPF) for arms to Ukraine, the government confirmed.

Italian news agency ANSA reported that Hungary did not approve the grant because it demanded guarantees that the EPF would not use the money exclusively to arm Kyiv, but would maintain its “global horizon” in the future.

The European Peace Facility was set up by the European Council to help member states better strengthen international security. In the Russian-Ukrainian war, member states are also buying arms for Ukraine through the EPF.

"Hungary does not agree with the fact that the European Union, along with other existing tools, uses the European Peace Facility solely with regard to Ukraine as this does not allow sufficient funds to be channelled to promote the EU's interests in other areas," the government spokesman's office told Reuters.

The news came after leaked US intelligence wiretap transcripts unveiled by the Washington Post showed that at a closed door meeting with government officials, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy suggested that the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline in Russia that runs to Hungary should be blown up to stop Hungarian industry relying on Russian crude oil.

Zelenskiy’s anger against the Hungarian government may have triggered the comments, according to comments by US secret services analysing the conversation.

Hungary’s illiberal leader has taken a neutral stance in the conflict, seen by many as implicit support for Russia’s aggression. While Orban stood by Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he has never named Vladimir Putin as an aggressor and has blocked the sending of weapons directly to the country. Hungary grudgingly accepted all 10 EU sanctions against Russia and has signed a new gas agreement with Moscow, and is still counting on Rosatom to expand the Paks nuclear plant.

In the latest spat, Budapest threatened to block the latest round of EU sanctions against Russia that are being prepared unless Ukraine removes Hungarian OTP bank from the list of "international sponsors of war".