We are pleased to present the nineteenth issue of 4liberty.eu Review, titled “Learning from the Past and Present: Impacts of the Russian War in Ukraine on CEE”. This time, our primary focus is on the response to the Russian aggression in the region, as well as various related phenomena and challenges.
Most people may believe that we tend to learn from past mistakes. On the other hand, some may prefer to subscribe to the approach of ‘let the bygones be bygones’ (or, in Latin terms, quod periit, periit), and focus on looking toward the future. However, when the past catches up with us, we must pay close attention to it and figure out what we want our next steps to be.
The Russian invasion has caused widespread destruction and loss of life in Ukraine and raised concerns among neighboring states about the potential escalation of the aggression. The protracted war triggered by the occupation has profound implications – not exclusively for the security and stability of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, but also for the rest of the world.
The war’s repercussions have underscored the importance of collective defense and cooperation among European nations in the face of emerging security threats, thus reshaping the dynamics of international relations on the continent.
The full-scale war that Russia waged against Ukraine has drastically impacted the situation in Ukraine. Many Ukrainians were forced to flee the country and seek safer regions or countries: according to estimates, about 8 million became refugees, while around 5 million are internally displaced people
While other European states redoubled in a tour de force of liberal values, the Hungarian government sunk even deeper into illiberalism and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán further consolidated his power, despite a dismal economic performance and international ostracism.
‘The Brussels sanctions will destroy us!’ was a slogan featured on billboards (with the sanctions depicted as bombs) paid for by the Hungarian government, which have been displayed across the country since the second half of 2022. The campaign was introduced as a reaction to the European Union’s decision to impose sanctions against the import of Russian products – most prominently energy resources.
The Hungarian government has always had a strong relationship with Russia. This has changed since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine due to the fact that Hungary is, after all, a member of the European Union (EU). This is why Hungary could no longer keep such a strong connection to Russia as before.
Russia weaponized its energy resources and used them as a countermeasure against European sanctions, cutting down the energy supply, and forcing the EU to take multiple measures in order to preserve its economy and to step up its efforts in becoming green, sustainable, and no longer dependent on Russia.