Orbán visits Putin on "peace mission"
In the middle of the Ukraine conflict, Hungary's Prime Minister Orbán has visited Putin in Moscow on what he described as a "peace mission". He also wanted to secure additional gas supplies, which the Kremlin boss pledged to give him. Critics have long accused Orbán of relying too much on Russia, for example regarding vaccines. What was behind the visit?
Doing business together is not friendship
The visit should not be understood as a political rapprochement, Magyar Nemzet stresses:
“In the pictures from Moscow one sees that the two leaders were separated by a large, oval table; symbolically, this space is Ukraine. No matter how much the two countries have changed in the past 30 years, the geopolitical reality has hardly changed and the distance remains. ... In the hope of a good deal, however, one can embark on a journey, and this time too, the Hungarian prime minister did not come home empty-handed. ... The decision was made to start negotiations on increasing gas supplies by another one billion cubic metres per year.”
Hungarian veto already in the bag
Orbán is playing Putin's game with increasing openness, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes in outrage:
“His foreign minister praises his country's relations with Russia and criticises Ukraine, his defence minister questions the strengthening of Nato's eastern flank, and Orbán himself cosies up to Putin in Moscow and gets an agreement on gas supplies at a better price than the rest of Europe in return. This raises the question of whether, just a few months before the election in Hungary, Putin has bought himself a veto from Budapest against EU sanctions in the event of an invasion of Ukraine.”
Stubborn, and valued by the Kremlin boss for it
Ria Novosti praises Hungary's prime minister as a statesman of Putin's calibre:
“Orbán is not only the most experienced of all European leaders, he is also the most stubborn in defending his principles. But this is not stubbornness like that of the Polish leadership, which, while adhering to its conservative values, is trying to play on Russophobia and a dispute between Germany and Russia. Orbán's stubbornness is not based on trying to exploit antagonisms between great powers, and certainly not on provoking them, but on insisting on one's own interests. That is why Orbán is respected by many - as a person who is not afraid to challenge powerful supranational forces. Putin also respects him for this.”
The wrong priorities
Instead of currying favour with Putin Orbán should take his Polish counterpart as a model, advises Sme:
“For some reason, Hungary and Poland are often mentioned in the same breath - although the situation in Poland is much healthier. The crucial difference, the reason why it is a mistake to tar them with the same brush, is geopolitics: while Orbán was cuddling up to Putin, his Polish colleague Morawiecki was negotiating in Kyiv. And on the table were nothing less than arms deliveries and a new supra-regional cooperation format - Ukraine, Poland, the UK.”