Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss peace in Ukraine

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss peace in Ukraine, a move that has provoked sharp rebukes from EU leaders.

In a move that has sparked controversy among European Union leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday. The discussion centered around achieving peace in Ukraine, but it drew significant criticism from fellow EU members who warned against appeasing Russia.

Orban’s visit to Moscow comes just days after Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the EU. The timing of the meeting is particularly sensitive, as it precedes an upcoming NATO summit focused on providing additional military aid to Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the need for unity within the EU to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. “Appeasement will not stop Putin,” von der Leyen stated on X, underlining the bloc’s stance against yielding to Russian demands.

During their meeting at the Kremlin, Putin expressed his willingness to discuss the “nuances” of peace proposals to end the conflict, which he referred to as a special military operation. Putin reiterated his stance from the previous month, stating that Russia would cease hostilities only if Ukraine abandoned its aspirations to join NATO and ceded control over four provinces claimed by Moscow. These demands have been firmly rejected by Kyiv as tantamount to surrender.

Orban’s visit to Moscow follows his recent trip to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Orban has also formed the “Patriots for Europe” alliance with other nationalist leaders, further solidifying his controversial position within the EU.

The European Union remains steadfast in its support for Ukraine. The bloc’s leaders have repeatedly called for continued military and economic assistance to Ukraine, viewing any concessions to Russia as undermining their collective security efforts. Orban’s actions have been seen as undermining this unified stance, raising concerns among other EU nations about the potential impact on the bloc’s overall strategy.

Hungary’s leadership of the EU’s rotating presidency adds another layer of complexity to the situation. As the nation at the helm of the EU’s agenda for the next six months, Hungary’s diplomatic moves are under intense scrutiny. The EU’s war hawks are particularly wary of any signs of divergence from the bloc’s hardline approach towards Russia.

Orban’s peace mission to Moscow has thus far been met with skepticism and resistance from within the EU. Leaders fear that any perceived leniency towards Russia could weaken the bloc’s position and embolden Putin.

As the NATO summit approaches, the focus remains on reinforcing support for Ukraine and maintaining a unified front against Russian aggression. The outcomes of Orban’s discussions with Putin will undoubtedly be closely monitored by EU and NATO leaders alike, who are keen to ensure that the principles of international law and sovereignty are upheld in the ongoing conflict.