86% of Hungarians are against European or NATO soldiers fighting in Ukraine, according to a March opinion poll by Századvég. Following recent calls by several leading European politicians, echoing the war rhetoric of French President Emmanuel Macron, for European countries to send troops to support Ukraine against Russia, Századvég has examined the Hungarian public’s views on certain issues related to the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

War intervention has no social support

As a starting point, it should be emphasised that Hungarians attribute the outbreak and protraction of the Russia-Ukraine war to the clash of superpower interests and the inability of the United States and Russia to compromise. Accordingly,

three quarters (75%) of respondents believe that the armed conflict involves a clash of economic and military interests between superpowers (the US and Russia) and that there is no peace because neither side is willing to give in.

Emmanuel Macron, as pointed out in an earlier analysis by Századvég, has recently suggested on several occasions the need to deploy European ground troops in Ukraine. Following the French president’s pro-war vision, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that “we cannot rule out any form of support to Ukraine”, while Czech President Petr Pavel would support talks on a possible military presence in Ukraine. In addition, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski “welcomed” Macron’s war talk, adding that “the presence of NATO troops in Ukraine is not unthinkable”, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said that the French president’s pro-war speech was merely a “public acknowledgement of the obvious”, which will make Europe realise that it “must do more” for Ukraine. The public relevance of this issue is demonstrated by the fact that

77% of survey respondents have heard that Emmanuel Macron and other EU politicians, as well as Ukrainian leaders, have called for European military intervention in the Russia-Ukraine war.

At the same time, it is important to stress that Hungarians strongly reject the idea of military intervention in Ukraine. The survey reveals that

86% of Hungarians would not agree with soldiers from European countries or NATO soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

Russia would not attack Hungary and NATO

A frequently recurring claim in international public discourse is that Ukraine is protecting Europe with its military efforts, as Russia would expand further on the continent if it were to defeat Ukraine. The poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Hungarians disagree with this assumption. It can be seen that

8 out of 10 respondents (80%) believe that Russia would be unlikely to attack Hungary following a possible military defeat of Ukraine. Similarly, 79% of Hungarians do not think it likely that Russia would attack NATO if it defeats Ukraine.
• Methodology

CATI method, n=1,000, among Hungarian adults, data collection: March 2024