Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has demanded that the European Union re-examine its strategy of funding Ukraine’s battle with Russia, saying he would stand in the way of further aid unless the bloc’s leaders make sure their objectives are “realistically attainable” without continued US support.
Orban made his threat in a letter to European Council chief Charles Michel, saying that no discussion on funding for Ukraine, Kiev’s accession to the EU, or further sanctions against Russia can happen until a “strategic discussion” is held, Politico reported on Wednesday. According to the outlet, the letter called for such a review to take place when EU leaders meet in Brussels next month.
“The European Council should take stock of the implementation and effectiveness of our current policies towards Ukraine, including various assistance programs,” Orban wrote.
He added that with future aid from Kiev’s chief benefactor, the US, imperiled by partisan bickering in Washington, European leaders need to reassess whether they should stay the course.
“The European Council must have a frank and open discussion on the feasibility of the EU’s strategic objectives in Ukraine,” Orban wrote.
Do we still regard these objectives realistically attainable? Is this strategy sustainable without robust support from the United States? Can we take continuing support from the United States for granted? How do we conceive the security architecture of Europe after the war?
The European Council isn’t prepared to make key decisions on Ukraine policies – including security guarantees, further aid, Russia sanctions, and expansion of the EU – until member states reach a consensus on their strategy, according to Orban.
The Hungarian leader could use Budapest’s veto power as an EU member to block delivery of €50 billion ($54.4 billion) in economic aid pledged to help fund Ukraine’s government amid the conflict with Russia, as well as €500 million in military assistance. Orban could also stall the decision on opening formal negotiations with Kiev to join the EU.
Orban has repeatedly clashed with the EU on issues ranging from Russia sanctions to illegal immigration to LGBTQ propaganda. The EU is withholding €13 billion in funding to Hungary over the country’s alleged breaches of the bloc’s “rule-of-law” standards.
The Hungarian PM has called for a negotiated end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, rather than prolonging the crisis and risking further escalation. Last month, he likened the bloc’s domineering tactics to the Soviet Union, calling Brussels a “bad contemporary parody” of the USSR.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto suggested on Saturday that some European leaders have lost touch with reality when it comes to the Ukraine crisis.
“Some people imagine themselves in Fortnite,” he said, referring to the popular video game. “They suffer from military psychosis and, for some reason, believe that arms shipments can bring peace.”