July 14, 2024


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Ukraine-Russia war: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban calls for ceasefire in Kyiv

Ukraine-Russia war: Hungarian PM Viktor Orban calls for ceasefire in Kyiv

Comment on the photo, The body language between the two leaders was not friendly.

  • author, Gordon Corera
  • Role, Security Correspondent, Kyiv

Viktor Orban arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday on an unannounced visit after just taking office as the European Union’s rotating president.

The Hungarian prime minister said while in Kyiv that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine could speed up negotiations to end the war that followed Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Orban has been critical of Western support for Ukraine and is seen as the European leader closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was his first visit to Ukraine in 12 years, though he has met Putin repeatedly during that time.

During his joint appearance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, their body language was not friendly and neither took questions from the media after making their statements.

Orban had earlier slowed down agreement on a €50bn ($54bn; £42bn) EU aid package aimed at supporting Ukraine in its defence against Russia.

But for the next six months, his position as president of the European Council means he will play an influential role as a leading figure in Europe. He came to Ukraine on his second day in office for discussions, saying there was a need to resolve past differences and focus on the future.

In his statement, Mr Orban stressed the need to work together, but also said he had raised the idea of ​​a ceasefire to speed up negotiations with Russia.

“I asked the President to consider whether a quick ceasefire could be used to accelerate peace negotiations… and I am grateful for his frank dialogue and answers.”

Orban also said: “My first trip took me here because the issue of peace is important not only for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe. This war that we are suffering from greatly affects European security.”

President Zelensky has not publicly responded to these comments.

Later, the Ukrainian leader said in a post on X that Mr Orban’s visit to Ukraine was “a clear signal to all of us about the importance of unity in Europe and taking collective steps”.

“We discussed the path to a just, lasting and equitable peace.”

Many Ukrainians believe that a ceasefire would simply consolidate Russia’s hold on the territory it has seized from Ukraine, and if negotiations do take place, they would prefer to do so from a position of strength rather than retreat.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country was open to “working with everyone and solving problems.”

“This work is difficult and takes a long time, but in the end it gives tangible results,” he told the BBC.

“During the visit, President Zelenskyy had a frank and constructive discussion with Prime Minister Orban on ways to achieve a just peace, not just a ceasefire or peace talks.”

Orban said the two countries were determined to put past differences behind them, and that he was confident progress would be made on the rights of ethnic Hungarians.

He also wished Ukraine “every success.”

The EU began membership talks with Ukraine the week before Hungary took over the presidency of the EU Council.

Comment on the photo, Viktor Orban (left) and Vladimir Putin met last year at a summit in China.