Hungarian Foreign Affairs offers milquetoast words on Ukraine

Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to issue milquetoast statements on the deepening crisis in Ukraine, following confirmation by NATO that Russian forces were operating in the Donetsk region of the country, and had helped pro-Russian rebels open up a second front in the southeast (along the coast of the Sea of Azov) against Ukrainian forces. “We are closely monitoring and evaluating the situation on the ground, and we are in contact with our EU and NATO allies. A confirmed incursion of Russian regular military units on Ukrainian territory would gravely escalate the crisis. In line with our consistently expressed earlier position, we emphasise that only a political process can lend a sustainable solution to the present crisis and therefore we support all diplomatic efforts to this end”–noted Hungary’s MFA. The Tibor Navracsics-led Ministry is banking on an extraordinary meeting of the European Council, followed by an informal gathering of EU foreign ministers to offer a roadmap to dealing with the crisis that appears to deepen by the day.

Photo: Paula Slier

Photo: Paula Slier

Over 1,000 Russian troops are believed to be operating in eastern Ukraine. Had it not been for their intervention, the pro-Russian rebels (who have lost over half of the territory that they once controlled in Donetsk and Luhansk to the Ukrainian armed forces) would have been unable to open up a second front a mere 20km outside the coastal town of Mariupol, home to nearly half a million residents. “During the fighting overnight, the Novorossiya forces took control of the villages of Starchenkovo, Respublika, Zeleny Yar, Boyevoye, Malinovka, Demyanovka, Starodubkovka, Chervonoye Pole and Osipenk…Chances are high that today [Ukrainian] punitive troops will be finally entrapped in Mariupol.”–writes the pro-rebel Novorossiya News Agency.

Rebel forces captured the town of Novoazovsk — home to over 10,000 residents — on Thursday. It is widely believed that this would have been impossible without the active involvement of Russian troops.

In stark contrast to the Orbán government’s weak response to an increasingly belligerent Russia, Poland decided to bar Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu from flying over Polish airspace, due to confusion over whether this was a civilian or military flight. The Russian minister was stuck at the Bratislava airport until Polish and Russian authorities sorted out the situation and confirmed that this was, indeed, a civilian flight.

The Polish government did not mince its words when it came to Russia’s covert military intervention in eastern Ukraine. “This for sure is an aggression”–Foreign Minister Radoslav Sikorski noted. “There’s the American saying: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck,” Mr. Sikorski added.

Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s foreign minister, also spoke up. “This is an obvious invasion of the territory of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation. This is war,” observed Mr. Rinkevics.

Hungary’s Mr. Navracsics, however, has been markedly silent and the only words to come out of the Hungarian MFA are vague, careful statements on how Hungary is awaiting a coordinated European Union response, based on diplomacy.

Meanwhile, UN estimates now suggest that more than 2,600 people have died in eastern Ukraine since fighting broke out in April. This figure does not include the 298 civilians who were killed when flight MH-17 was shot down over rebel territory in July.

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