In respect to the Ukrainian conflict, it can be noticed that the further a nation is situated from the Russian bear, the more willingness it shows to take it on. The USA is in an easy situation. Not even considering that they have a large interest in not letting the case rest, they do not need to worry on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean that they might burn themselves in the fire they have ignited themselves. Neither is there any American minority in Ukraine, nor is the USA in need of Russian energy sources. The consequences of a possible commercial war between the East and the West should also be manageable for them, and they probably would even be well compensated by its advantages. In case the commercial cold war would turn into a hot one, they still have the European reinforcement troops that would come to help the cause of the US foreign policy in the same way they did in Afghanistan. On the contrary, Hungary is not in such a comfortable situation, considering that the possible threatening of the Hungarian minority in Carpathian Ukraine, the energy supplies coming from Russia (that are transported via Ukraine) and the important EU funds strongly limit its freedom in making decisions, and therefore the country does not have any interest in the further escalation of the conflict. It is not Hungary’s interest to even take a clear position on the matter, since the three threats mentioned above are so well distributed, that even with the most brilliant diplomatic skills, Hungary will always offend at least one party.
If Hungary were to take sides fully with the EU-European and US-American point of view, it would surely lead to disagreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. If Hungary would be understanding towards the protective measures of Putin for the Russian majority of population on the Crimean peninsula and an important fleet that is contracted with Russia until 2042, the country would be scorned by the West and the Hungarian citizens in the Carpathian Ukraine would most probably also pay a price.
Looking at these interests it is understandable why the Hungarian leadership stayed silent in the beginning, as is Orbán’s lack of enthusiasm to be put under pressure by a forming sanction front in Brussels. The fact that it had to come to this does not really show any empathy, much rather that the EU leaders are quite insensitive about the individual interests of the member states.
Of course, for a Spanish citizen living quite far away or a French one, who is well provisioned with energy via the nationally owned nuclear plant, it is easier to enter a commercial war with Russia than it is for a Hungarian. The EU would have been smarter to have a pretext with the more reluctantly active countries like Hungary, in order to win some time (“more votes are necessary”) and form an own European (!) opinion about the nature of the conflict and its driving forces before taking any action.
During that process they would need to investigate the specific circumstances of the violent takeover of power first. Who was responsible for the excessive spread of violence on the streets of Kiev? What happened on the Maidan actually? What about the rumours of right activists who were instructed and financially motivated by Western powers to confront the defensive security forces in battle? Who hired the snipers? Who is responsible for the victims? Are the quite disgusting phone calls and e-mails of the new Ukrainian elite that are circulating on the internet original? Who is a more trustworthy partner: a government with or without neo-fascist supporters from the West?
Anyway: What does a pacified Ukraine look like? Could it be that the role of Ukraine supported by – still officially legitimate – President Janukovic as the bridge between the East and the West would have been the more sustainable alternative? Is it really worth to stretch the patience of the Russians to the limit for the displacement of the eastern borders of NATO? Is the security of Europe guaranteed by further US bases along the border of Russia, or will Ukraine suffer the damage for it?
It would also be worth considering how the USA would react if the lives of its citizens or one of its 700 bases worldwide would be in immediate danger. It would be logical to reconsider the moral righteousness of the sanctions against Russia. How can it be that people are so loudly protesting now, when in the past they had silently stood by or even willingly assisted at US military actions that have hurt the rights of certain nations? Is there another, stricter international law in force for the “evil Russians”?
There are many questions and things to be explained. Countries like Hungary could probably play a leading role in the necessary discussions, with a less “Transatlantic” oriented foreign policy and national interests aimed clearly for de-escalation..