Putin says Ukraine must surrender if it wants peace – Uractive

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Viktor Orbán on Friday (5 July) that Ukraine must effectively surrender if he wants peace, in a visit to Moscow by the Hungarian leader that angered the EU, the US and Kyiv.

Putin hosted Orbán, the EU’s friend to Moscow, for talks at the Kremlin, which the Russian president described as a “really fruitful, open dialogue” on the conflict in Ukraine.

A string of EU officials blasted the Hungarian prime minister’s surprise visit, which threatened to undermine the 27-member bloc’s position in the conflict and insisted he was not representing Brussels.

Hungary’s Orbán travels to Moscow, days after his visit to Kyiv

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán traveled to Moscow on Thursday (4 July) to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, days after he visited Kyiv in a trip that drew sharp condemnation from EU officials and diplomats.

The two talked about possible ways to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, Putin said in comments after the bilateral meeting.

The Kremlin leader repeated his demand that Ukraine withdraw all its forces from areas annexed by Moscow, and said Kyiv was “not ready to give up the idea of ​​waging war until victory”.

Putin said at the start of the talks that he wanted to “discuss the evolving nuances” of the conflict in Ukraine with Orban, who visited Kyiv earlier this week.

Orban said he realized the “levels are too far apart” between the two sides.

“Many steps are needed to end war and bring peace,” he said.

The visit came days after Hungary assumed the EU’s rotating presidency, and Putin told Orban he expected him to outline the “position of European partners” in Ukraine.

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The Ukrainian government condemned the meeting.

“The decision to undertake this trip was made by the Hungarian side without any agreement or coordination with Ukraine,” Kyiv’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

No EU mandate

European Union leaders lashed out at Orban over the trip.

“Peace will not stop Putin,” European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen wrote in X.

“Only unity and determination will pave the way for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

“Orbán’s visit to Moscow takes place exclusively in the framework of bilateral relations between Hungary and Russia,” EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said in a statement.

“Orbán received no mandate from the EU Council to visit Moscow,” he added.

The European Union has firmly opposed Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine, imposing an unprecedented 14 rounds of sanctions on Moscow.

“That position excludes official contacts between the EU and President Putin, and thus the Hungarian prime minister does not represent the EU in any form,” Borrell said.

“It is recalled that President Putin was indicted by the International Criminal Court and an arrest warrant was issued for the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.”

EU Council President Charles Michael reiterated the common position that “there can be no discussion of Ukraine without Ukraine.”

The White House criticized the trip as “counterproductive” and the NATO military alliance, of which Hungary is a member, distanced itself.

Orbán’s visit “will not advance the cause of peace and is counterproductive to promoting Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

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NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Orban had notified the alliance of his trip, but the Hungarian leader “doesn’t represent NATO at these meetings. He represents his own country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state television that the visit was Orban’s idea and that Russian officials heard about the trip on Wednesday – a day after Orban visited Kyiv.

Among EU ranks, condemnation of Orban was not unanimous. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, appearing publicly on Friday for the first time since May’s assassination attempt, supported Orban’s visit to Moscow, saying he would join his Hungarian counterpart on his visit if health permitted.

Worrying news’

Hungary’s six-month EU presidency gives the central European country power over the bloc’s agenda and priorities for the next six months.

Orban’s visit to Moscow comes days after the right-wing nationalist made a surprise trip to Kyiv, where he urged Ukraine’s leadership toward a quick ceasefire with Russia.

The Hungarian leader insisted on Friday that peace cannot be achieved without talks.

“If we sit in Brussels, we cannot get closer to peace. Action must be taken,” Orban said during his regular interview on Hungarian state radio, when asked about his visit to Ukraine on Tuesday.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed dismay at Orban’s trip to Moscow, while Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo called it “disturbing news”.

It will be the first visit by a European leader to Moscow since Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehhammer’s visit in April 2022.

Orban and Putin last met in Beijing in October 2023, where they discussed energy cooperation.

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(Edited by Georgy Kotaev)

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