Western Leaders Are ‘One Step Away’ From Sending Troops to Ukraine: Orbán

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday said Western leaders are “one step away” from sending soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

“We are one step away from the West sending troops to Ukraine. This is a military whirlpool that can drag Europe to the bottom. Brussels [the site of NATO headquarters] is playing with fire,” Orbán said at a campaign event for his Fidesz political party, according to Hungarian broadcaster Hír TV.

Newsweek reached out to NATO via email on Friday night for comment.

Orbán is among the few NATO leaders who have been sympathetic to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Hungarian leader has also consistently tried to block aid to Ukraine from the European Union, and he’s spoken out against Ukraine becoming a member of NATO.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivers a speech at the Brussels Expo convention centre in Brussels, Belgium, on March 21. Orbán on Friday suggested that Western troops could soon be deployed to Ukraine.

Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

The Hungarian leader’s comments on Friday come after an international debate broke out when French President Emmanuel Macron said in February that NATO should not rule out sending troops into Ukraine.

“Nothing should be excluded,” Macron said during a news conference about putting Western boots on the ground in Ukraine. “We will do anything we can to prevent Russia from winning this war.”

While some NATO leaders said they would not support such a move, others said it should be considered. Kyiv’s Western allies have not committed troops to the war. But Orbán said on Friday that European leaders have “already” gotten “involved” in the war in Ukraine. He also claimed they refer to the conflict as “their war.”

“There is a pro-war majority in Brussels today,” Orbán said, adding that NATO’s politics “are dominated by the logic of war.”

The prime minister said that despite large amounts of money and weapons being sent to Ukraine, “the situation is not improving; in fact, it is getting worse.” He then pledged that his country would not get involved in the conflict.

“We don’t want war, and we don’t want Hungary to become a toy of great powers again. That is why we must stand for peace,” Orbán said. “At home, in Brussels, Washington [D.C.], the UN and NATO, I recommend that we make a clear commitment. As long as a national government is at the head of the country, Hungary will not enter the Russo-Ukrainian war on the side of anyone.”

Orbán did not offer any evidence to support his claims of Western leaders being close to deploying soldiers in Ukraine. The Kremlin has previously warned that if troops from the West are sent to the battlefield, it will trigger an inescapable clash between NATO and Russia.

Speaking to the press in February after Macron’s original comments, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Western troops becoming involved in the war would result in the “inevitability” of a direct confrontation.

“In that case, it’s not going to be about probability, but inevitability—that’s how we assess it,” Peskov said at the time, according to TASS, a Kremlin-controlled outlet.