Hungary’s veto effectively threw up a new obstacle to Ukraine’s aspirations to build a closer relationship with the alliance. Officially, Hungary says such moves are about protecting the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine.
A strident nationalist, Orban has often complained about the status of the Hungarian minority in western Ukraine. He has also cultivated a close relationship with Putin, and his government has frequently impeded Ukraine’s overtures to the West, much to the Russian leader’s satisfaction.
Five years ago, Orban said that ethnic Hungarians in western Ukraine must be granted dual citizenship and the opportunity for autonomy. “Ukraine can be neither stable nor democratic if it does not give its minorities, including Hungarians, their due,” Orban said.
It’s a campaign he has returned to, even setting up a ministry to support the ethnic Hungarians in what his government calls Transcarpathia. Standing alongside Putin in February 2017, Orban said “the current discussions about the language of instruction in Ukraine are far from beneficial for the Hungarian minority.” Under Ukrainian law, school instruction in sixth grade and above is solely in Ukrainian
Such statements are music to Putin’s ears….