Viktor Orban is openly betting on his allies – Beijing and Moscow. At a meeting with Vladimir Putin in the Chinese capital, he called the war in Ukraine a “special operation.” Orban is the only leader from the European Union to have met face-to-face with the president of Russia since February 2022. The summit of the Belt and Road Initiative Forum, a Chinese economic initiative that was supposed to extend Beijing’s influence also in Europe, begins in Beijing. Everything indicates that she has found a stop – Budapest.
So far, only the Russians have used the term “special operation” in reference to the war in Ukraine. Now Viktor Orban also talks about Russia’s attack in this way. The Hungarian Prime Minister met with Putin again. – Hungary never wanted confrontation with Russia. On the contrary, Hungary’s goal has always been to establish and expand mutual contacts. And we succeeded, but due to the special military operation and sanctions, these relations, unfortunately, lost a lot. It destroyed the structure we built together, Orban said.
The long-time, closest ally of the PiS government has once again given his opponents an argument to call him Putin’s Trojan horse in the European Union and NATO. While Western leaders unite in isolating the Russian dictator, Orban not only meets with him, but even maintains an intimate relationship with him.
– Although in today’s geopolitical conditions the possibilities of maintaining contacts and developing relationships are very limited, we are satisfied with the fact that we maintain and develop our relations with many European countries. One of such countries is Hungary. Over the last decades, we have built relations between Hungary and Russia based on taking into account mutual interests, said the Russian leader.
Only he knows what European countries Putin had in mind other than Hungary. Apart from Hungary and Belarus, only Serbia can talk to him.
The last time Orban and Putin met was three weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Then, the head of Hungarian diplomacy, Orban’s right-hand man, Peter Szijjarto, regularly met with politicians from Moscow and Minsk. Now the leaders of Hungary and Russia met on neutral ground – in China, where they both flew to the meeting of the Belt and Road Initiative Forum, a huge Chinese economic project.
Putin, apart from last week’s visit to Kyrgyzstan, left the country only for the first time since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him. China does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, so Putin in Beijing can sleep peacefully.
Orban: we are interested in maintaining cooperation
Putin talked with Orban about common Russian-Hungarian interests. There are a lot of them because Hungary still imports Russian oil and gas. In turn, the Kremlin-controlled Rosatom concern is expanding the Paks nuclear power plant, which is why Budapest is blocking the imposition of EU sanctions on the Russian nuclear sector.
– We are interested in maintaining cooperation not only at the communication level, but also at the economic level, if possible. I want to thank you for remaining our good partner. I would like to thank Gazprom for fulfilling its obligations under our agreement. We managed to save a lot of what we had achieved before. Nobody likes it when the results of their work are denied for reasons that are in no way their fault, Orban said.
Viktor Orban is the only leader of an EU country present at the forum organized by President Xi Jinping, which starts on Wednesday. “One Belt, One Road” is a project worth up to EUR 900 billion, pushed by Beijing, aimed at reactivating the former Silk Road. It envisages the creation of new trade connections from China to the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean.
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Main photo source: Grigory Sjosjew/PAP/EPA/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL