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Jul 5, 2024, 7:21am EDT
Europe
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Semafor Signals

Hungary’s Orbán meets Putin in Moscow, drawing rebuke from EU

Insights from The Guardian, the Financial Times, Semafor, and The Kyiv Independent

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Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a joint news briefing with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 2, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, a move that has angered the European Union. The trip comes days after Orbán visited Kyiv as Hungary took over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, a key leaders’ bloc.

Orbán’s trip prompted immediate condemnation from Brussels’ top brass, with Charles Michel, president of the European Council, writing on X that “The EU rotating presidency has no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU. The European Council is clear: Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine is the victim. No discussions about Ukraine can take place without Ukraine.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Orbán trying to paint maneuver as ‘pro peace’

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Sources:  
The Guardian, The Financial Times

Orbán’s camp painted his trip to Moscow as a natural progression of the peace talks he pushed during his surprise visit to Kyiv earlier this week, the first one he has made to wartime Ukraine. Sources close to the Hungarian government told The Guardian that Orbán “is trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. And after his talk with the Ukrainian president, this meeting makes sense.” But EU officials have stressed he is in no way representing the bloc, and that Hungary’s rotating presidency role gives him no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the alliance. “There is always going to be a question during this presidency: is Orbán speaking for himself or for the EU,” one EU diplomat told the Financial Times.

Orbán, EU’s Kremlin-sympathizer, ‘tests limits’ of presidency

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Sources:  
Semafor, The Kyiv Independent

Orbán’s trip, which is unsanctioned by Brussels, is a test of the limits of the EU presidency. The Hungarian prime minister has promised to “Make Europe Great Again,” and wants to fundamentally deconstruct the EU — a goal he won’t be able to achieve within the six-month confine of Hungary’s presidency. But Orbán is taking a “creative” approach to the presidency, one expert told Ukraine’s Kyiv Independent: The trip to Moscow “is something that goes beyond the usual limits of the presidency, showing that [Hungary] will approach it in a ‘creative’ way,” said Pavel Havlicek, a research fellow at the Association for International Affairs.

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