Although Viktor Orbán recently said in Berlin that when he visited Moscow before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, he saw Putin’s determination and therefore felt that “there was a problem,” government sources told investigative outlet Direkt36 that the Hungarian Prime Minister said the exact opposite back in February.
According to a deep-dive article on the wartime maneuvering of the Hungarian government, the Prime Minister allegedly told his inner circle in February that he did not expect war. The topic was also discussed at a closed meeting of the Fidesz parliamentary group on February 16.
Orbán was not the only one surprised by the Russian attack on Ukraine, the article relates. The day before the Russian attack, the heads of the national security services held a briefing in the parliamentary National Security Committee. In the session, the head of the Military National Security Service, János Béres, told the committee that the United States had predicted a total invasion by Russia, but he made it clear that that they had come to a different conclusion.
The article reveals that the United States continually attempted to convince the Orbán government that they should not believe Putin, who the Americans thought was truly preparing to attack Ukraine. Last November, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest regularly submitted written descriptions of war preparations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the ministry did not believe them.
However, once the war broke out, the government’s communication organs reacted quickly to developments. On the afternoon of February 24, Minister Antal Rogán called the heads of the pro-government media to the Carmelite Monastery, where he informed them of the government’s communication strategy and how public figures should reflect the government’s position.
Orbán said the war was about U.S. dominance over Europe
The article also discussed a parliamentary meeting on March 21, where Viktor Orbán gave his analysis of the war. The Prime Minister said that he believed the conflict was about the Americans wanting to return to a unipolar world order, in which cutting off Europe from cheap Russian energy would make the price of European products higher and thus give the United States a competitive advantage on global markets.
Orbán also remarked that whatever anyone says, Ukraine would not win the war.
Direkt36’s investigative article also touched on Putin’s ally Patriarch Kirill and why Hungary successfully prevented him from being personally sanctioned. According to the article, the Russian Orthodox Church itself made this request from the Hungarian government in an official letter. [HVG]