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31 Jan, 2024 00:41

Orban isn’t ‘pro-Russian’ – Ukrainian FM

Kiev’s top diplomat says Budapest is protecting Hungarian national interests
Orban isn’t ‘pro-Russian’ – Ukrainian FM

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba believes that the Hungarian leadership is not “pro-Russian,” despite attempts by Western media and politicians to label it as such.

Kuleba held a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, on Monday, seeking to find common ground over Hungary’s blocking of EU financial aid for Kiev. In an interview with Hungarian news portal Telex, the Ukrainian foreign minister was asked about Szijjarto and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s alleged “pro-Russian” stances.

“If such a thing were to be confirmed, it would represent a major problem for both the EU and for Hungary. But I think they are pro-Hungarian,” Kuleba stated. “If they were pro-Russian, Peter would not have declared at today’s meeting that he respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

As for Budapest’s repeated calls for a negotiated solution to the Ukrainian crisis, Kuleba said, “we do have a different view on this indeed: we believe that Russia can only be forced into meaningful negotiations based on the results achieved on the battlefield.”

Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, has criticized the EU’s Ukraine policy and has refused to supply arms to Kiev, while denouncing the sanctions on Moscow as detrimental to the bloc’s economy.

While some Western politicians and media outlets have branded Orban as “pro-Russian,” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov dismissed the notion, saying the label is being applied to leaders who tend to “think about their nation’s sovereignty… [and] defend the interests of their country.”

EU leaders will meet on Thursday to discuss a four-year, €50 billion economic aid package for Ukraine. Orban is the sole EU leader pledging to oppose the package, and the Council of the EU has allegedly responded by drawing up plans to sabotage the Hungarian economy. While a spokesperson for the council refused to confirm or deny the Financial Times report, Orban told Le Point on Monday that “we don’t come from a kindergarten.” 

“It’s a sort of blackmailer’s manual,” he stated. “It is important for Europeans to understand that member states, if they disagree on issues like war, migration, gender, immediately experience an imperialist reaction from Brussels.”

According to Orban, Hungary made a “compromise offer” to the council that would see aid to Ukraine parceled out every year after a unanimous vote by member states. Orban, however, did not say whether he would maintain or abandon his veto if the bloc rejects his offer.