Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is expanding his grip on the armed forces and defense industry through a wave of deals as he develops what amounts to an independent foreign policy inside the EU.
Orbán has expressed his intent to build “a military industry here at home…that can produce modern weapons.” More recently, Orbán’s efforts have bled into the armed forces, with longtime ally Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky pushing to trim the military’s top ranks in a move critics say is meant to purge the officer corps of pro-NATO and anti-Orbán officials.
The efforts come as the Hungarian government has crafted an independent foreign policy somewhere between the traditional trans-Atlantic alliance’s and those of illiberal powers such as Russia and China. This week, Orbán directed his ruling Fidesz party to back Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids, despite internal divisions on the issue. Two days later, he also suggested that he would again block sanctions against Russia unless several individuals were removed from the list.