European and U.S. Security Interests Are at Stake
By Chargé d’Affaires Marc Dillard
The world is watching Russia’s pattern of unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine, because Russia’s actions are a threat not only to Ukraine, but to Europe and to the international rules-based order. Our aims are simple. We stand with our Allies and partners to support European cohesion, strengthen our transatlantic relationship, and reinforce democratic states and institutions. We do this to improve the lives of both citizens of the United States and citizens of Hungary.
This is not a conflict between East and West (or between Russia and the United States) in which Hungary is a bystander. Hungary and its security are directly impacted by any actions that threaten the global rules-based order and even more so when that threat is in Hungary’s neighborhood. Hungary chose to join NATO, and since then, Hungary and NATO have benefited from increased security, stability, and opportunities through our partnership. Russia’s destabilizing actions on Ukraine’s border stand as a threat to that security and stability, and to the peace and prosperity Hungary and its Transatlantic allies have achieved.
As Secretary Blinken said when he spoke in Berlin on January 20, there is a lot at stake here. We are talking about the future of Ukraine, true, but also about the principles that have made the world safer and more stable for decades.
We are deeply invested in what is happening in Ukraine because we respect these principles, which underpin international peace and security: that the borders and territorial integrity of a state cannot be changed by force and that it is the right of countries to make decisions for themselves and to determine their own future. All members of the international community should face costs if they don’t live up to the solemn obligations that they undertake.
To allow Russia to violate those principles with impunity would send a message to others around the world that these principles are expendable.
And we do this together. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been crystal clear: the United States will not negotiate about Europe, without Europe. We will not negotiate about Ukraine, without Ukraine.
The Real Threat
Over the past two decades, Russia has invaded two neighboring countries, interfered in others’ elections, used chemical weapons to conduct assassinations onforeign s oil, wielded gas deliveries as a political tool, and violated international arms control agreements.
In 2014, after millions of Ukrainians protested for a democratic future, Russia manufactured a crisis, invaded and occupied Ukraine’s territory in Crimea, and orchestrated a war in eastern Ukraine with Russian personnel and with armed groups it leads, trains, supplies, and finances. This war has claimed more than 14,000 Ukrainian lives. Russia continues to occupy parts of both Georgia and Ukraine today and has failed to honor its commitment to withdraw forces from Moldova. And now Russia’s actions, including building up more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, are causing a renewed crisis not only for Ukraine but for all of Europe.
President Putin disingenuously blames Ukraine for Russia’s unprovoked military buildup. But Ukraine’s military posture and the NATO alliance have always been purely defensive in nature. Unlike Russia, Ukraine has upheld its commitments under the Minsk agreements, which were designed to ensure a cease-fire in Donbas.
What Putin truly fears is that democratic values and the exercise of human rights will continue to gradually erode his grip on power. Responding to those fears, Russia has been unrelenting in its efforts to undermine Ukrainian democracy through disinformation and military intimidation. In short, Russia’s actions are dangerous and destabilizing.
Call to Action
The United States wants to continue building the international coalition of partners in Europe and elsewhere who see this threat with clear eyes. Our allies in Hungary are critical to this effort. Our shared Transatlantic unity and resolve is the most effective tool we have to counter Russian aggression. We are committed to diplomacy, and we have made clear that the diplomatic path provides the only durable solution for everyone.
However, if Russia chooses that second path and further invades Ukraine, we are ready and aligned with our partners and allies to impose massive consequences on Russia, as recently confirmed by the G7, the EU, and NATO. These would be significant sanctions – financial, economic, and others that we have not imposed in the past. We would also shore up the defenses of Ukraine and NATO as necessary, the very thing Putin claims not to want.
Russia’s threat to Ukraine is a threat to democratic values everywhere. Americans and Hungarians must stand together with Ukraine to ensure a free and stable Europe, which is in the best interest of the people of democracies, be they Americans or Hungarians or others around the globe.