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Opinion
Andreas Kluth

Vienna Must End Its Long Waltz with Putin

The European Union should demand that its smaller member states come off the fence in the conflict with Russia. That starts with Austria.

Then-Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl dancing with Putin at her 2018 wedding.

Then-Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl dancing with Putin at her 2018 wedding.

Photographer: Roland Schlager/AFP via Getty Images

Critics from Ukraine to NATO have of late been chastising Germany for reacting too slowly and timidly against Russian aggression. Fair enough. Germany, as the largest economy in the European Union, bears disproportionate responsibility in helping to coordinate the Western response against the Kremlin’s atrocities and lies. But the attention given to Berlin obscures the not-so-helpful role played by several smaller European countries. 

Most reprehensible among those is, of course, Hungary. Its prime minister, Viktor Orban, is an authoritarian right-wing populist who’s long been buddies with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Orban has gone along with the EU sanctions passed so far, he’s blocked arms deliveries to Ukraine via Hungary and threatened to veto any European embargo of Russian oil and gas. Orban’s Hungary is the West’s weakest link.