PM Orban signs order authorizing NATO troops stationing in western Hungary

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Hungary will allow NATO troops to be deployed in western Hungary and weapons shipments to cross its territory to other member states, according to a decree signed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The decree, published Monday, does not allow lethal weapons shipments across its territory to Ukraine.

The change of government policy forced by the Ukraine crisis was announced on Monday in the official gazette. Hungary has a close relationship with Russia.

The document allows the NATO Response Force to be stationed west of the Danube River and the Hungarian airspace to be used for transit.

However, any personnel or equipment headed to Ukraine can only transit  Hungary if it is heading to another NATO country. It need to cross into Ukraine from another NATO member, such as Romania or Slovakia.

The policy is in keeping with Mr Orban’s efforts to stick with NATO policy while also “keeping Hungary out of the war”.

Last month, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that permitting the transit of weapons to Ukraine would jeopardize “the security of Hungary and the Hungarian community in Transcarpathia”,  a region in western Ukraine.

Orban’s government, which has been in a close relationship with Moscow, has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has signed up to the European Union’s sanctions on Russia.

Hungary has opened its border to refugees fleeing war. So far, more than 180,000 people have fled from Ukraine to Hungary.

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