Hungary blocks €500 million in EU weapons funding for Ukraine after Kyiv sanctions Hungary’s biggest bank

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen address a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Hungary will block funding worth €500 million for arms to Kyiv, which would be the eighth transfer from the European Peace Facility (EPF), business daily Világgazdaság reported.

Budapest has demanded guarantees that the EPF will maintain its global horizon in the future and not only be used to arm Ukraine.

The Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU member states approved on May 5 the joint purchase by EU countries of artillery ammunition and missiles for Ukraine worth €1 billion, the EU Foreign Affairs Council announced on Friday. The aid, approved as part of the European Peace Facility, will allow the Ukrainian armed forces to be supplied with 155-millimeter caliber artillery ammunition and rockets.

A day before the council’s decision, the Ukrainian National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACC) included OTP Bank in the list of international war sponsors. This decision was justified by the position of the bank’s management on the continuation of its activities in Russia and the de facto recognition of the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said on Friday in Stockholm that until Ukraine revokes the decision, the Hungarian government would be “hard pressed” to negotiate further sanctions that would require further sacrifices.

“It is scandalous that Ukraine has put OTP, which does not violate any laws, on the list of international sponsors of the war,” Szijjártó said.

Relations between Ukraine and Hungary have not been good for a while, dating back to before the war, mainly on account of Ukraine’s poor treatment of its ethnic Hungarian minority. However, Hungary’s decision to not send weapons to Ukraine, and its promotion of a peace deal and ceasefire in Ukraine have angered Ukraine and a host of Western governments.

Last month, Tamás Menczer, state secretary for bilateral relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that Hungary will not support Ukraine’s integration into the European Union or NATO until the rights of the Hungarian community in Ukraine are restored.

It has also been revealed that Ukraine planned to blow up a vital Russian pipeline supplying oil to Hungary in order to cripple Hungary’s industry, according to leaked U.S. intelligence documents. The news has been met with shock in Hungary, with one security analyst saying it amounted to an attack on Hungary, and therefore an attack on NATO.

“This is an attack on Hungary and therefore NATO, according to NATO Article 5,” Hungarian security policy expert György Nógrádi told daily Magyar Nemzet in an interview.

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