What to do about Hungary?
They’re ruled by an autocrat, Viktor Orban, who they just reelected easily.
They also like Putin. Which helps explain their choice.
They refuse to join in the West’s vigorous support of Ukraine.
They just told the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Leyen, that they had no interest in joining the EU’s embargo of Russian oil. The only way they’d do it, is if the EU provided them with ‘billions and billions’ to upgrade their energy grid to make them self reliant.
Any hint of sacrificing themselves a little to assist Ukraine is off the table.
No blurred positions. They are clear about what they want.
But they like the protection that NATO offers. And the subsidies that come from the EU. Plus the free borders with the rest of Europe.
The perks, yes, the responsibilities, no.
So the EU should look for a way to boot Hungary out of the union. Mr Orban has been doing this dance for a while so I’m sure that option is being debated.
Geography offers Hungary some protection. If their location were a bit different, as for instance between Belarus and Ukraine, rather than near the center of Europe, they would be a good candidate for a swap. As in the EU saying to Mr Orban, ‘Why don’t you go over to Putin’s side, we’ll take Ukraine instead. We’ll withdraw you from NATO so you can apply for the benevolent protection of Vladimir Putin’. Although I suspect Mr Orban might not like the idea. He seems to prefer playing both sides to see how much he can get.
But there is good news from the war front also.
Finland is about to apply for membership in NATO and Sweden is expected to follow.
Putin must be kicking himself since he told us he must invade Ukraine to push NATO away, and instead now has two nearby nations wanting their protection.
Something about his messaging is not getting through.
This morning I read that Erdogan in Turkey, is opposed to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. He plays both sides, also. Sends drones to Ukraine, then seeks to ingratiate himself with Putin.
But gradually we have discovered that the Russian leader is not an imposing figure at all.
He overestimated the power of his armed forces, underestimated the resolve of Ukrainians and the West, sacrificed thousands of people in the pursuit of his folly and has become an object of scorn to most of the world.
I’m sure he’s even strained his relationship with China since he probably promised a quick victory, not the messy and lengthy affair the invasion has turned out to be.
Although we haven’t seen clear signs of it yet, I believe he’s under pressure from within Russia, from sectors in industry, commerce and the military, which upon taking stock of the damage done by their leader are asking, ‘isn’t it time to get rid of him?’
The magnitude of that internal force is the wild card in this war.
Let’s hope we get to see it play out as soon as possible.
And no, Crimea would not be a retirement option.
Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts