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NATO allies: Orbán's Moscow visit fails to advance peace and unity

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at an event commemorating the alliance's 75th anniversary at the NATO summit in Washington, 9 July 2024
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at an event commemorating the alliance's 75th anniversary at the NATO summit in Washington, 9 July 2024 Copyright AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
Copyright AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
By Shona Murray
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The growing consensus among NATO allies is that Orbán's visit to Moscow was unnecessary and failed to acknowledge that Russia is the aggressor and that Ukrainians are suffering as a result of Putin's actions.

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NATO allies in Washington are critical of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's overtures to Moscow — neither was any of it helpful nor did it advance the cause of peace, they say.

Others, such as former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, say Orbán doesn’t have the clout to be so disruptive.

"Orbán is too insignificant and too small to impact Western security," said Ambassador Daalder.

"Ultimately, he's just not important enough. Ultimately, he's not able to set a different course. Ultimately, he has to accede to where the majority, the large majority, to where most of the people want to go," he told Euronews.

Daalder, now the CEO of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, spoke on the margins of the NATO summit in Washington, where allies are gathering to mark 75 years of the alliance.

The growing consensus among allies is that Orbán's visit to Moscow was unnecessary and failed to express the reality that Russia is the aggressor and that Ukrainians are suffering as a result of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions.

"We don’t find this helpful," said US Special Adviser for Europe at the National Security Council Michael Carpenter. "We don’t see it advancing the peace process and it certainly doesn’t help Ukraine", he told reporters.

"His mission was not coordinated — we knew it was not going to be successful because Putin doesn’t want peace — he wants control over Ukraine".

"Putin proved it to him and us all with the horrendous attack on a children’s hospital in Kyiv," a Ukrainian source told Euronews.

Rescue workers clear the rubble at the site of Okhmatdyt children's hospital hit by Russian missiles on Monday, in Kyiv, 9 July 2024
Rescue workers clear the rubble at the site of Okhmatdyt children's hospital hit by Russian missiles on Monday, in Kyiv, 9 July 2024AP Photo/Anton Shtuka

Incoming Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof, ahead of his first NATO summit, said Orbán has "no mandate" to speak on behalf of the EU to Putin.

Daalder says the rise of far-right parties is troubling because it threatens the unity and trust needed for NATO and other international institutions to function.

"There is certainly a wind that is blowing pretty strongly towards the far right. And we are seeing that throughout Europe and indeed in the United States in spades," he added.

He said the far-right is not only more authoritarian in its outlook but more nationalist, which goes against the promise of collective security.

"And in a world in which the European Union is all about sharing sovereignty and NATO's all about the idea of collective security, the idea that the security of your neighbour is vital to your own security," he said.

War fought by 40-year-olds

Meanwhile, Daalder says both Ukraine and NATO need to do more to increase the likelihood of Russia being defeated, including mobilising younger men and women to fight in Ukrainian forces.

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"Ukraine needs to mobilise manpower. This is a war being fought by 40-year-olds. No other war in history has been fought by 40-year-olds".

"You need to get 18-year-olds, and you need to get 20-year-olds, and you need to get 21-year-olds, which is what every army in the rest of the world relies on’’, he said.

Daalder is also critical of the ambitions of allies for this momentous summit, saying Ukraine should be invited to join the alliance.

"It would have been better if we could have had a more strategic commitment for NATO membership for Ukraine".

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"It's not enough to say that they will become a member".

"Russia will not give up its goal of controlling Ukraine unless and until Ukraine is integrated in the Western institutions, in the European Union, NATO," he added.

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