NATO to boost Ukraine aid as Hungary lifts block

The war in Ukraine

Published 14 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Jens Stoltenberg and Viktor Orbán.

NATO can now move forward with plans for increased military and economic assistance to Ukraine after Hungary announced it would no longer block the aid.

The announcement followed a meeting in Budapest earlier this week between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Following the meeting in Budapest, Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO is now ready to “intensify its support for Ukraine” without Hungary standing in the way.

– There is no NATO obligation to participate in all operations or activities. What the prime minister and I have agreed today is that Hungary will not block other allies to agree a pledge for financial support to Ukraine and the leading role for NATO in coordinating support to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said at the press conference.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán expressed his approval of the reached agreement.

– Hungary got the guarantees we needed. We have a fair deal, Orbán said, defending his and the Hungarian government’s decision to no longer block the aid.

We must ensure that Ukraine wins

The decision resolves two of the most complicated issues ahead of a major NATO summit in Washington this summer. Stoltenberg has stressed that he wants to see a firm commitment from NATO countries to provide at least €40 billion a year in financial assistance to Ukraine.

Stoltenberg also hopes that NATO can take over some of the military coordination currently handled by the US through the Ramstein Group, also known as the “Contact Group on Ukrainian Defense”.

Hungary has long opposed both initiatives, but has now received assurances that it will accept other countries moving forward with the plans without Hungarian participation.

– No Hungarian personnel will take part in these activities and no Hungarian money will be used, Stoltenberg declared.

He expects alliance defense ministers to reach a broad agreement on support for Ukraine when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. The meeting will also discuss what Stoltenberg describes as a Russian “campaign” of “hostile attacks on NATO sites.

– This takes the form of sabotage, violence, cyber-attacks and disinformation. Member states are taking decisive action, making arrests and initiating legal proceedings. We are stepping up our protection of critical infrastructure, Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday evening.

(“We must ensure that Ukraine wins,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday.)

Stoltenberg’s successor

An open question that remains is whether Hungary will also drop its veto on outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte succeeding Stoltenberg as secretary general of the US-led military alliance.

The issue was not raised during the press conference, and Stoltenberg himself claims that he is not involved in negotiations over his successor. Currently, Rutte has the support of at least 29 of NATO’s 32 countries. The only other candidate is outgoing Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Jens Stoltenberg’s long tenure ends on September 30 this year.

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