WARSAW, Poland — The Hungarian government has said it abandoned plans to order High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems after last year’s bilateral talks failed to produce an agreement with the United States.
“During the previous government term, the government commissioner responsible for [weapon] procurements requested information regarding the HIMARS missile systems in a letter, with a deadline of March 2022. There was no response from the American side, and the ministry considered the matter closed,” Hungary’s Defence Ministry said in a statement recently published by the state-run MTI news agency.
The statement was referring to the previous cabinet of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who formed his fifth consecutive government in May 2022 and has served in the position since 2010.
Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. James Risch of Idaho said he had blocked the sale of 24 HIMARS weapons to Hungary.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Risch explained he halted the potential $735 million deal with Hungary due to its government’s refusal to agree to Sweden’s accession to NATO. The lawmaker is the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The contract was to cover 24 launchers along with more than 100 missiles, among other related gear and services.
Sweden’s application to join NATO is currently held up by Turkey and Hungary.
While Budapest’s latest announcement could represent a face-saving attempt, it also demonstrates the growing distance between the Hungarian government and many of its Western partners. Following Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, several NATO members accused Hungary of failing to present an unequivocally negative stance against Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom Orbán has long maintained excellent relations.
Alongside NATO’s eastern front, the expanding group of members who have ordered the Lockheed Martin-made missile launchers includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.