Fact Check: Putin Did NOT Say Transylvania Should Be Annexed To Hungary


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Fact Check: Putin Did NOT Say Transylvania Should Be Annexed To Hungary No Mention

Did Russian President Vladimir Putin say the Romanian region of Transylvania should be annexed to Hungary? No, that's not true: The claim distorts a statement Putin made in a 2016 interview with Bloomberg News. Putin actually disparaged the idea of redrawing Europe's borders and did not even mention Transylvania.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-language video (archived here) posted on TikTok on March 3, 2022, under the title "Pov: We're getting Transylvania back ! Or maybe not 🤣". The video showed a headline from a blog called A Világ Titkai (The Secrets of the World) that read:

Putin: Transylvania should be annexed to Hungary -- the speech that made Romania crap itself

(All translations to English by Lead Stories staff).

A version of the blog post dated July 26, 2022, was available on A Világ Titkai's website at the time this fact-check was written. It said:

In Hungary, there wasn't much reaction to [Putin's] 2016 interview for a long time, but it raised a major alarm in Romania for understandable reasons... According to news sources, when Putin was asked about the validity of the borders established after World War II, specifically about the return of the Kuril Islands to Japan, the president said that if someone wants to raise this issue, then the Hungarian-Romanian border should also be addressed... What do you think? Was it a Freudian slip?

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-09-14 at 13.15.20.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Sep 14 11:15:20 2023 UTC)

Transylvania, historically part of Hungary, became Romanian territory under the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, which formally ended hostilities between Hungary and the Allied Powers after World War I. Hungary reoccupied part of Transylvania in 1940, but was forced to cede it back to Romania after World War II. Its loss remains a source of grievance for many Hungarian nationalists.

Putin did not endorse the idea of redrawing the Hungarian-Romanian border in his September 1, 2016, interview with Bloomberg News. According to an English-language transcript available on the website of Russia's Mission to the European Union, Bloomberg's interviewer jokingly asked Putin if he would consider relinquishing control over Kaliningrad, a former German outpost that was seized by the Soviet Union during World War II. Putin scorned the suggestion, saying:

All jokes aside. If someone is willing to reconsider the results of World War II, let us discuss this. But then we will have to discuss not only Kaliningrad, but also the eastern lands of Germany, the city of Lvov, a former part of Poland, and so on, and so forth. There are also Hungary and Romania on the list. If someone wants to open this Pandora's box and deal with it, all right, go for it then.

At no point during the interview did Putin mention Transylvania.

It is not even clear that Putin had Transylvania in mind when he mentioned Hungary and Romania. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union annexed Transcarpathia, a territory that Hungary claimed until 1945. The Soviets also stripped away part of the Romanian region of Moldavia in 1944, creating the Moldavian S.S.R. This area became the independent nation of Moldova in 1991.


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