Hungary has agreed not to veto NATO assistance to Ukraine, alliance chief says

Hungary has agreed not to veto NATO assistance to Ukraine, alliance chief says

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accepted Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s “clear” decision not to participate in the alliance’s defence of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the alliance's chief said on Wednesday.

However, the Central European country pledged not to block other nations from financially supporting Ukraine, according to Stoltenberg.

“I expect our allies will agree a leading role for NATO (in) coordinating and providing security assistance and training for Ukraine. I also expect allies will agree (on a) long-term financial pledge to provide military support. This will provide the predictability and accountability that Ukraine needs,” the NATO top boss told a room full of reporters in Budapest.

“Prime Minister Orbán has made it clear that Hungary will not participate in these NATO efforts, and I accept this position.”

Stoltenberg said in exchange for Hungary’s non-participation, Orbán had guaranteed that the country would not “block other allies” with its veto powers from an agreement being reached to pledge financial support for Ukraine.

"The prime minister has assured me that Hungary will not oppose these efforts, enabling other allies to move forward, and he has confirmed that Hungary will continue to meet its NATO commitments in full,” he added.

The 32-member alliance takes all its decisions by consensus, effectively giving any one of the allies a veto.

'No funds, no personnel' for Ukraine from Hungary

Orbán said 1,300 Hungarian soldiers are involved in NATO operations, and the country has complied with the alliance’s expectations of allocating 2% of GDP to its national military budget.

But, according to the Hungarian leader, the recent European elections over the weekend had reinforced his government's “mandate” to “not participate in a war” outside of a NATO area of operation, he said. This has led to the "difficult" decision not to send personnel.

“We were given the guarantee today that when it comes to the Russian-Ukrainian war when it comes to military out-of-area operation, we do not have to participate in that,” Orbán added.

“Hungary will not provide funds or personnel for the war. Nor will the territory of Hungary be used for any involvement in this war.”

At a summit in Washington next month, US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts are expected to agree on a new system for providing Ukraine with more predictable and long-term security and military training assistance.