Ukraine NATO membership ‘not subject of realistic discussion’, minister says

Realistically, NATO membership for Ukraine “is clearly out of the question” as this would raise the threat of a direct conflict with Russia, the foreign minister said in Washington, DC on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit, Peter Szijjarto said talks had been plagued by “enormous duplicity… They are trying to conjure an image of [Ukrainian] NATO accession while everyone knows this is out of the question and cannot be a matter of discussion.”

Szijjarto said the situation had led to “grammatical summersaults” in the summit’s closing declaration, “because if NATO admitted Ukraine, we would live under the constant, open and extremely dangerous threat of war, as Ukraine’s NATO membership would foreshadow direct conflict between Russia and NATO.”

While that is no one’s goal, “the mainstream is suggesting that the closest possible cooperation is necessary,” he said.

Hungary was only willing to agree to the closing statement if it stated that any future NATO accession of Ukraine must be adopted unanimously, he said.

“Once again, Ukraine will not be invited to NATO, so its membership is effectively off the table. Of course, everyone will make statements on how important it is,” he added.

Szijjarto said that NATO had earlier considered countries “good allies” based on their contributions to NATO security, participation in missions and the money spent on them.

“They are now starting to rewire the issue,” Szijjarto said, insisting that those helping Ukraine the most were considered the best allies. “But Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and NATO’s security depends not on how strong Ukraine is but on how strong we are.”

Of its 32 member states, 23 have fulfilled the alliance’s aim to raise defence spending to 2 percent of GDP, Szijjarto said, noting that Hungary had reached that milestone 3 years ago.

“If we scratch the surface a little, it becomes obvious that many countries have included weapons delivered to Ukraine as part of that 2 percent, even though that does not strengthen the alliance’s collective security,” Szijjarto said.

“This is a kind of hypocrisy, as NATO’s strength and defence capabilities depend on our own strength and not that of Ukraine, as NATO is a defence alliance rather than an aggressor alliance,” Szijjarto said.

Regarding the requirement that countries spend 20 percent of their defence spending on development, Szijjarto said Hungary was spending 48 percent of its own defence budget on defence and industrial development, the second highest ratio in Europe.

“The measure of who is considered a reliable and good ally should be who contributes to NATO’S security rather than political pamphlets and statements,” he said. “Hungary will continue to focus on attempts to keep NATO strong and not let it drift into the war.”

The draft resolution launching a mission to support Ukraine by coordinating weapon deliveries and military training operations endangered that aim, Szijjarto said.

“We have made an unequivocal agreement with the incumbent and the incoming [NATO] secretaries general … that no Hungarian soldiers will participate in such an operation, and the country’s territory cannot be used to advance such aims and budget resources cannot be funnelled into it,” he said.

Hungary will also keep out of a support fund for Ukraine, he said. “I think this is dangerous, not only because it’s a lot of money, but also in view of the underlying approach. A long-term financial plan for a war shows that they think it will drag on for a long time,” he said.

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