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Balint Madlovics, Balint Magyar: Hungary’s Dubious Loyalty: Orban’s Regime Strategy in the Russia-Ukraine War

The latest CEU DI Working Paper by our researchers, Balint Madlovics and Balint Magyar, examines the domestic and international behavior of the Orban regime in relation to the Russia-Ukraine war.

It is shown that, before the invasion, the Orban regime as the only patronal autocracy in the EU adopted a geopolitical regime strategy of protecting the regime’s corrupt operations from the EU (framed in a negative, de-legitimizing narrative) and expanding the same operations towards Russia (framed in a positive, de-stigmatizing narrative). Hungary’s behavior after the invasion is interpreted in this context, and it is conceptualized as the duality of Western linkage and Russian leverage.

The paper analyzes the crisis of the “bridge role” between West and East, Orban’s subsequent attempts to maintain it anyway, as well as the Hungarian regime’s anti-Ukrainian campaign on the domestic scene and pro-Russian steps on the international scene, coupled with obligatory support for the Western condemnation and sanctioning of the Russian regime (hence dubious loyalty). In conclusion, the trends analyzed in the paper point not to the departure of Hungary from the Western bloc for the Eastern but to the prolonged existence of a mafia state on the EU’s periphery.

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