Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Hungarian PM Orban meets Putin in Moscow visit condemned by Ukrainian, EU leaders



Hungarian Prime Minister viktor urban British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Jean-Claude Juncker travelled to Moscow on Friday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, causing considerable anger among fellow EU leaders.

Orban was the first EU leader to visit Moscow since April 2022, and his visit was made more controversial by Hungary’s recent assumption of the rotating presidency of the EU Council.

Putin and Orban said they discussed ways to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin told reporters after the meeting that Russia was “always open to discussion” in order to reach a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict, but stressed that he was sticking to the terms it had already set.

These conditions would be unacceptable to Ukraine and its Western allies. Ukraine has made clear that any peace deal must include the return of Ukrainian territory it occupied before 2014.

Orban’s press secretary, Zoltan Kovács, said the prime minister’s visit to Moscow was of “particular importance”, as it was the first since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Friday’s meeting marked the 14th time the two leaders have met since 2009, he added.

Orban has long been Putin’s greatest ally in Europe, a rarity in the bloc, and has advocated a ceasefire in exchange for military support for Ukraine.

“The talks with President Putin in the Kremlin focused on resolving the crisis in Ukraine and bilateral relations, emphasizing Hungary’s unique position in reaching out to both warring sides,” Kovacs said in a post on his website following the meeting on Friday.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen criticised Orban’s decision to visit Moscow, saying “appeasement will not stop” Putin.

“Only unity and determination are the way to achieve comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” she added.

Kiev was also quick to criticize Orban’s visit. “The Hungarian side made the decision to make this trip without the consent or coordination of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “We recall that the principle of ‘no agreements on Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains sacred for our country and we call on all countries to strictly adhere to it.”

The ministry said the Ukrainian peace formula – the plan outlined by President Volodymyr Zelensky – “remains the only realistic way to restore a just peace.”

Orban’s visit to Moscow came a few days after his visit to Moscow. trip to Kyiv On Tuesday, Putin visited Kyiv for the first time since the start of the full-scale Russian war. Putin used the trip to urge Zelensky to consider a “ceasefire” in order to “accelerate peace talks” with Moscow — something Zelensky has vehemently rejected.