US blocks sale of HIMARS to Hungary for obstructing Sweden's accession to NATO
US senator James Risch, top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked the sale of HIMARS missile systems to Hungary because of Sweden's obstruction to NATO membership
He stated this decision to The Washington Post..
It is noted that this is a rare step aimed at forcing Hungary to give the green light to NATO expansion ahead of the July summit in Vilnius.
According to Risch, Budapest must allow Sweden to join the Alliance if it wants to receive an arms package containing 24 batteries of HIMARS missile launchers. The package also includes more than 100 missiles and containers with relevant spare parts and support.
The publication notes that this decision demonstrates the growing hostility to Hungary on the part of NATO supporters such as Risch. It is emphasized that he rarely delays arms sales to countries anywhere in the world.
“For some time now, I have directly expressed my concerns to the Hungarian government regarding its refusal to move forward a vote for Sweden to join NATO… I decided that the sale of new U.S. military equipment to Hungary will be on hold,” senator said.
Background. Senior members of the Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee must give permission and approval for any major arms sales before the State Department publicly announces them. Thus, Risch's blocking of the arms sale to Hungary prevents the State Department from moving forward with the process.
In 2022, after Russia's large-scale attack on Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO, but faced unexpected objections from Turkey.
After Finland joined NATO, Biden called on Turkey and Hungary to ratify Sweden's application.
On April 20, Tobias Billstrom, Swedish Foreign Minister expressed hope that his country would be able to join NATO before the Alliance's summit in July, a view shared by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.