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EU state’s leader congratulates Putin on election win

Viktor Orban said that he will keep talking to Moscow because Hungary is “committed to peace”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on winning a fifth term in office, becoming the only EU leader to do so. Orban said that the “mutual respect” between Budapest and Moscow enables “important discussions even in challenging geopolitical contexts.” 

Putin’s victory was officially confirmed by Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on Thursday. Some 76.2 million Russian citizens participated in last weekend’s election, with Putin winning 87.28% of the vote, the CEC said. 

After the results were announced, Orban “congratulated [Putin], noting that the cooperation between Hungary and Russia, based on mutual respect, enables important discussions even in challenging geopolitical contexts,” Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs wrote in a statement on X.

“PM Orban affirmed Hungary’s commitment to peace and readiness to intensify cooperation in sectors not restricted by international law, underlining the importance of dialogue in fostering peaceful relations,” Kovacs added.

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US Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman (M) in Budapest on February 5, 2024.
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While Orban condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the Hungarian leader has consistently spoken out against the EU’s response to the conflict. Orban has refused to supply Ukraine with arms or to allow weapons to enter Ukraine via Hungarian soil, and has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and peace talks, arguing that “the longer the war goes on, the more people will die, and the balance of power will not change in Ukraine’s favor.”

Orban has also opposed some of the EU’s sanctions on Moscow, arguing that they hurt the European economy more than Russia’s. While Budapest has agreed to the repeated packages of economic penalties, it has done so only after securing certain exemptions and concessions for Hungary.

The Hungarian premier has also met with Putin since the Ukraine conflict erupted, something that no other EU leader has done. Orban spoke with the Russian president at a Belt and Road Initiative forum in Beijing last October, where they discussed their countries’ oil, gas, and nuclear energy links.

Putin’s electoral victory was condemned by Western officials, with the US claiming that the vote was “neither free nor fair.”

“What did you expect? For them to stand up in applause or something?” Putin responded at a press conference earlier this week. “They are fighting against us, including with arms.”

March 22, 2024 at 02:16AM

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