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Hungary Table of Contents


Threat from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Traditionally, Hungary's role in the Warsaw Pact had been to follow the Soviet lead on matters of national and bloc defense. But even during the early and middle 1980s, when member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began installing intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Western Europe in response to the installation of Soviet SS-20 missiles in the western portion of the Soviet Union, the attitude of the Hungarian government toward the West was never as rabidly vehement as that displayed by the governments of Czechoslovakia or East Germany (see Principles of Foreign Policy , ch. 4). In fact, the Soviet Union has criticized Hungary for not spending enough on its military and for stressing defense of the country (honvedelem) instead of defense of the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Western analysts speculated about Hungary's military role in a Warsaw Pact conflict with the West. Hungary did not border any NATO country and therefore was not in the front line of Warsaw Pact troop deployment. It was seen to play a supporting role, primarily by supplying military engineering support and some antiaircraft defense. In a war with NATO, Hungarian forces would either be used in the Warsaw Pact's Western Theater of Military Operations against West Germany or in the Southwestern Theater of Military Operations against NATO's southern flank. In both scenarios, Hungarian forces would have to enter the territory of neutral countries. For instance, Yugoslavia's neutrality might be breached to project Soviet and Warsaw Pact power in the Mediterranean. Hungarian military engineering support would prove crucial in such a campaign.

Data as of September 1989