Hungarian Lieutenant colonel defends Russian expansionism

January 25, 2018

Hungarian Lieutenant colonel defends Russian expansionism and speculates Trump assassination in TEK's magazine
Photo: Ministry of Defense/Veronika Dévényi

A Hungarian lieutenant colonel propagates Russian imperialism and bashes the anti-Trump US establishment on the pages of the Counter-Terrorism Centre’s (TEK) official magazine, reports literature and political weekly Élet és Irodalom.

Published in the 2017/4 issue of Terror and Countering, Lieutenant colonel Endre Szénási’s essay titled The Deposition of National Security Advisor Flynn: Anti-Trump witch-hunt in the United States? offers an analysis of former national security advisor General Michael Flynn’s deposition with a significant focus on Russian foreign policy. Lieutenant colonel Szénási, according to a footnote, has been “dealing with [international] partnerships, especially in the post-Soviet area at the Ministry of Defense’s Department of Defense Policy since 1997”. The premise of his essay is that after the Obama administration’s hostile foreign policy towards Russia, President Trump finally sought to ease the tensions between the two nations, however the “establishment” does everything it can to prevent the détente. Szénási argues that Flynn fell victim of the “establishment”.

In the first part of the essay, Szénási makes light of Russian expansions of the last 10 years. According to him US hostility towards Russia dates to the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. Szénási argues that by intervening in Ukraine, Syria, and Georgia, Russia simply “defends its historically developed sphere of influence, therefore measured on a historical scale, [Russia] factually does not represent an ‘expansive’ foreign policy.” Szénási claims that Russia cannot even be considered “aggressive” as it did not aim to extort a political system change through military occupation, not even in Georgia. “[Russia] did not bomb the Georgian Ministry of Defense, which would be a prime target in every classical war. Neither did it bomb buildings of intelligence agencies, airports etc.”

Szénási further argues against Russian aggressivity by pointing out that despite “the national policy justification, military power and not least the support of the local (Ukrainian separatist) and Russian public,” President Vladimir Putin eventually did not occupy the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Regarding the Russian annexation of Crimea, Szénási blatantly echoes the Russian narrative, claiming that by sending unidentified soldiers into the area, Russia “secured” the “bloodless transition”. He concludes that the “West’s” considering Russia an aggressor after it provided autonomy for Crimea is problematic at best, and adds that he has no doubt “the putschists, nationalist power in Kiev would have prevented the secession of Crimea even violently, if necessary, even at the cost of a bloodbath.”

In the second part of the essay, Szénási discusses the circumstances of Flynn’s deposition. The lieutenant colonel calls the 1799 law that supposedly provided a legal base for Flynn’s deposition “absurd and unenforceable,” and the application of the law “unethical”. Szénási argues that Flynn’s deposition was the result of the “establishment’s” workings

The lieutenant colonel goes way beyond the Trump administration’s usual conspiracy theories when he speculates that like President Kennedy, Trump might be assassinated “if the sufficiently influential members of the American establishment decide that assassinating the President in office might be the ‘solution’.”

Szénási’s pro-Russia narrative would seem to contradict the Hungarian government’s professed foreign policy, a frequent subject of criticism from other NATO and EU member states for being too pragmatic towards Russia. Hungary belatedly voted for EU sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its aggression against Ukraine. Hungarian government officials voiced Hungary’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity on numerous occasions. Lieutenant colonel Szénási’s essay echoes the style, phrases and arguments of Russian state propaganda.