Monday, May 23

Hungary Cancels Defense Chiefs’ Meeting as EU Allies Stay Away


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(Bloomberg) — Hungary was forced to cancel a meeting of central European defense ministers after two of its closest allies in the European Union pulled out in response to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s limited support for Ukraine.

Hungary was due to host the defense chiefs of the so-called Visegrad Group in Budapest for a two-day meeting starting Wednesday. The event will take place later after the Czech and Polish defense ministers withdrew, Hungary’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday, without giving the date. The group of four countries also includes Slovakia.

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Orban has ruled out sending weapons to Ukraine and rejected the expansion of economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion to include energy supplies, driving a wedge between the Hungarian leader and what were his few remaining allies in the EU.

“We have a problem with a common view on a very important matter, and this worries us all very, very much,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina told reporters in Warsaw on Tuesday. “We very strongly emphasize our stance toward Ukraine. Unfortunately Prime Minister Orban and Hungarian politicians emphasize theirs.”

Orban, who has cultivated close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past decade, is facing general elections on April 3. He’s told voters that agreeing to demands to increase support for Ukraine risked dragging Hungary into the war.

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