Orban Meets Putin in Moscow, Draws Criticism from EU and Ukraine

Orban Meets Putin in Moscow

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, in a visit that has been heavily criticised by EU leaders and Ukraine’s government.

Friday’s meeting was part of what Mr Orban called a “peace mission”, coming three days after a visit to Kyiv where he met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Orban Meets Putin in Moscow

Hungary has just taken over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, but EU leaders have stressed that Mr Orban is not acting on behalf of the bloc.

Mr Orban is the EU’s only head of government to have kept close ties to the Kremlin following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

After the meeting, which lasted several hours, Hungary’s PM said Russia and Ukraine were still “far apart” in their views on achieving peace.

“Many steps are needed to end the war, but we took the first step to restore dialogue,” he said.

The Russian leader called it a “frank and useful” conversation. He also repeated a previously rejected proposal for Ukraine to withdraw from regions in the south and east of the country which Russia claims to have annexed – an area that includes territory Russia does not currently occupy.

Volodymyr Zelensky has long said Ukraine will not negotiate with Moscow until Russian forces leave all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.

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Earlier, Mr Putin said Mr Orban was visiting “not just as a long-time partner” but as a European Union representative.

However, European leaders openly condemned the Moscow trip and emphasised he was not representing the EU.

“The EU rotating presidency has no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU,” Charles Michel, President of the European Council, wrote on X.

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