Viktor Orban attacks EU’s ‘war policy’ after Putin visit


Europe’s “war policy” is hurting its people and economy, Hungary’s prime minister has said after meeting Vladimir Putin as part of an unsanctioned attempt to resolve the conflict in Ukraine.

Viktor Orban claimed that the “main victims” of the Ukraine “war policy” led by Brussels and Washington were “the European economy and the European population”.

The Hungarian leader, who has been strongly criticised by EU leaders over concerns he is too close to Putin, also said Russia was extremely hard to defeat.

“Putin cannot lose when you look at it in terms of soldiers, equipment and technology,” he said. “The defeat of Russia is a thought that is hard to imagine. The probability that Russia could actually be defeated is completely incalculable,” he told Bild, the German tabloid newspaper.

Mr Orban has used his role as the president of the European Council, which rotates between member states, to try and launch his own process for ending the war via negotiations.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in KyivHungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv

Mr Orban met with Mr Zelensky in Kyiv – Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Last Friday, Mr Orban travelled to Moscow to meet with Putin, three days after a visit to Kyiv where he met Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president.

He also travelled to Beijing on Monday to see Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Mr Xi has expressed support for Mr Orban’s self-styled Ukraine “peace mission,” despite it being condemned by EU leaders.

The three-part foreign affairs trip was carried out without the support of the European Commission or Ukraine, with Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, claiming it was a form of “appeasement” to Putin.

‘Let’s start negotiating’

In his interview with Bild, the Hungarian prime minister also claimed there was no way to resolve the conflict on the battlefield.

“People, we, the world, want peace, to stop killing each other,” he told the newspaper. “Let’s start negotiating. Or at least understand that there is no solution on the ground.”

After complaining that the EU’s costly support for Ukraine was harming taxpayers, he suggested the bloc should pull away from Washington’s approach to the war and set up an “anonymous” policy.

Western officials accept that the conflict in Ukraine will most likely end in negotiations of some form, as is often the case in wars.

However, there is deep concern that Putin would only be interested in a temporary ceasefire to allow him to bide time, before launching a renewed invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Orban has been a strong critic of the EU’s military support for Ukraine, which has included a €50 billion (£42 billion) funding package to shore up the nation’s air defences, artillery stocks and infantry.

His visit to Russia was strongly condemned by EU leaders, who have stayed away from Moscow since the February 2022 invasion and remain on extremely poor terms with the Russian leader.

“The EU rotating presidency has no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU,” Charles Michel, the president of the European Council – the body of EU member states’ national leaders – said.

“The European Council is clear: Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine is the victim. No discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine.”

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