Ethnic cleansing? Hungarians being rounded up and conscripted into Ukrainian army after massive losses in the east

A soldier from the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade of the Ukrainian army.
By John Cody
5 Min Read

As the Ukrainian army faces massive losses in the east of the country, the armed forces are increasingly turning to ethnic Hungarians living in the west of the country to fill the army’s battered ranks, with some critics worrying that the mass mobilization effort amounts to ethnic cleansing.

“If this continues, there won’t be any Hungarians left in Transcarpathia,” said Füssy Angéla during a report from the region for Hungarian news portal Pesti Srácok.

Reports are coming in that the Transcarpathia region of Ukraine, home to nearly 150,000 Hungarians, is seeing large mobilization efforts, with residents reporting there has not been such an effort since the initial outbreak of the war. Currently, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and policemen have descended on the region and are rounding up and conscripting whoever they can grab, including members of the Roma gypsy population.

Hungarian news outlet Magyar Nemzet reports that the “Transcarpathian morgues are also full, and they are deliberately slowing down the release of victims.”

According to Hungarian news portal Pesti Srácok, which delivered its report from the Hungarian-inhabited Ukrainian town of Munkács (Mukachevo in Ukrainian), there are rumors circulating that Ukraine is looking to recruit tens of thousands of men in the region. It is likely that a new brigade is being formed because the largest brigade of trained soldiers, the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade, suffered huge losses at Soledar. The Russian occupation of the eastern Ukrainian settlement was announced on Jan. 13

Many of the soldiers from this brigade were ethnic Hungarians sourced from the west of the country, with some on Twitter writing that Ukraine has used these soldiers as cannon fodder in the country’s bloodiest battles.

The main square in the Hungarian-inhabited Ukrainian town of Munkács (Mukachevo).

The brigade also participated in battles for Kreminina, Popasna, the Kherson southern offensive, and other fierce battles in the war. However, some are accusing Ukraine of heavily recruiting from other ethnic minorities as well, those that Ukrainian nationalists have long viewed with suspicion or outright hostility.

A man told the Pesti Srácek news outlet that earlier the market in Munkács was closed, and conscripts were taken away in a bus. The real reason for the forced conscription is unknown to the locals, but more and more videos of people being forcibly taken from their homes on the streets are appearing on social media. Throughout the war, videos of people protesting the conscription have been circulating on social media.

A woman told the paper that increasingly more people in the border town of Csap think that almost no one is safe who can be taken to war, with even 16-year-olds being conscripted.

Under the recently adopted regulation, no one can be admitted to university without a document proving that they are registered with the army. Workplaces and municipalities must also keep a register, and all conscripts must be registered. A new bill will also make marriage and divorce subject to the authorization of the military headquarters, as there have been cases of people divorcing because fathers raising their children alone are exempt from military service.

Ukraine has a population of 150,000 ethnic Hungarians. At one time, Ukraine’s ethnic Hungarian population lived in Hungarian territory, but Ukraine annexed this territory at the end of the First World War following the Treaty of Trianon.

As Remix News reported earlier, hundreds of ethnic Hungarians may have died fighting in the east for their country.

Ukraine has a fraught relationship with its Hungarian population. The government has restricted Hungarians from speaking their language and targeted Hungarian cultural institutions, while Ukrainian nationalists have committed arson attacks against the ethnic Hungarian population.

Now, there are fears that the Ukrainian government may be retaliating against these Hungarians, including with forced conscription and assignments at the front that feature high casualty rates.

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