Italy, Croatia, US, Turkey and Montenegro will send troops to Hungary to establish NATO battalion

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The decision not to introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine is fully in line with Hungary’s national interests, said Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benkő said after Thursday’s NATO summit. He stressed that the alliance is not a belligerent side in the war in Hungary’s neighborhood, and will do its utmost to ensure that hostilities do not escalate or spread beyond Ukraine’s borders,

The defense minster stated that in order to strengthen its role in the eastern and southeastern wings of the alliance, NATO had established a forward defense presence. This means that eight battalions will soon be formed on the eastern and southeastern wings of the alliance.

“One of them is our own, which was established earlier,” Benkő pointed out. “We, the Hungarian Armed Forces, created this. It is under the leadership of Hungary.”

Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benkő.

So far, five countries — the United States, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro and Italy — have indicated their intention to join the Hungarian battalion, said Benkő, adding that the agreement is pending parliamentary approval of the five countries.

Answering a question from a journalist, Benkő said that NATO soldiers would not be stationed at Hungary’s eastern border with Kuraine, as there would be no justification for that now. Instead, they would be in stationed in central Hungary, where they would take part in joint training and exercises in the bases of the army.

“Within NATO, there are, of course, differing views on the interpretation of the conflict and the type of response required,” Benkő said . As he explained, the latter can be traced back to different proximity and threats. However, the decision applies to everyone, and nobody can get out of line, he underlined.

“At the moment, it is simply impossible to say how long this conflict can continue, but we are confident that the Russians will not use chemical or nuclear weapons, as this would mean the level of a crime against humanity,” Benkő told daily Magyar Hírlap. He added that the process of military procurement does not need to be sped up, but it must be followed consistently along the path it has begun.

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