Russia unlikely to ‘swallow the West whole’, Hungary’s Orban says

Russia unlikely to ‘swallow the West whole’, Hungary’s Orban says

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Fears that Russia would mount an attack on any NATO member are unfounded, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday, adding that the war in Ukraine that is now in its third year showed the limits of Russia’s capabilities.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and NATO, has been refusing to provide military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Budapest also seeks to opt out of NATO’s long-term plan to aid Ukraine, with its foreign minister calling it a “crazy mission”.

Nationalist Orban, in power since 2010, has built his campaign for next month’s European Parliament elections on the agenda of avoiding deeper involvement in the conflict, saying the vote could determine the course of war and peace in Europe.

“The Russian military is fighting a serious and difficult war with the Ukrainians,” Orban told public radio in an interview. “If the Russians were strong enough to wrestle down the Ukrainians in one go, they would have done so already.”

Orban said NATO’s military capabilities far exceeded those of Ukraine, therefore it was unlikely that Russia or any other country would mount an attack against NATO.

“I do not consider it logical that Russia, which cannot even defeat Ukraine, would all of a sudden come and swallow the Western world whole,” said Orban. “The chances of this are extremely slim.”

Orban said he considered references to the Russian threat as a prelude to deeper Western involvement in the Ukraine war.

Relations between Budapest and Washington have soured because of Hungary’s foot-dragging over the ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession and also over Orban’s warm ties with Moscow despite the war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Philippa Fletcher)