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NYT: U.S. may send weapons to Hungary in signal to Russia

Hungary is one of the countries likely to receive a shipment of heavy weaponry from its NATO partner, the United States, as part of a plan announced by American President Barack Obama to discourage Russia from engaging in further aggressive acts in the region, according to the New York Times.

This news comes about a week after the announcement that Hungary may purchase 30 Russian helicopters valued at as much as $490 million, and a couple of weeks before Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s meeting, scheduled for February 17, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The weapons from the U.S. are being sent to Central and Eastern European countries as part of Obama’s plan to fortify the eastern flank of the region in light of Russia’s continued presence in eastern Ukraine and its increased military spending, according to the New York Times. Officials connected to the new initiatives reportedly said that weapons would likely be sent to Hungary, Romania and the Baltics, and could also be used by NATO forces to protect Europe’s southern borders against terrorist attacks and the influx of migrants from Syria.

“This is a longer-term response to a changed security environment in Europe. This reflects a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

According to the Times, Evelyn N. Farkas, who until October was the Pentagon’s top policy official on Russia and Ukraine, said: “This is a really big deal, and the Russians are going to have a cow. ... It’s a huge sign of commitment to deterring Russia, and to strengthening our alliance and our partnership with countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.”

The weapons will be funded by an increase to allotted military spending in the United States to the tune of $3.4 billion, more than four times its current budget for European military spending in 2017, according to the New York Times.