Viktor Orban arrives in Moscow for meeting with Vladimir Putin

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban arrived in Moscow on Friday for a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Russian media reported, citing Orban's spokesman.

The rumour that Orban would travel to Moscow had been circulating since Thursday evening. On Tuesday, Orban travelled to Kiev for talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, marking the start of Hungary's EU presidency.

While Hungary holds the presidency of the European Union, this does not mean that Orban has a mandate to speak to Putin on behalf of the EU. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell reiterated this in a reaction to the news on Friday.

"Prime minister Orban has not received a mandate from the EU Council to visit Moscow," Borrell said. "The EU position on Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine (...) excludes official contacts between the EU and president Putin. The Hungarian prime minister therefore does not represent the EU in any way".

Borell also recalled that Putin is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

"Peace mission"

EU officials have long feared that Orban would test the boundaries of acceptable behaviour during Hungary's presidency, as the country often uses its veto powers to undermine European rule. It is not the first time he has met Putin since the war began, as the two met in Beijing last October.

Orban himself sees the trip as a "peace mission". In an interview with Hungarian public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, the Hungarian president said that Ukraine's and Russia's "positions are currently far apart, but this could set the parties on a long road that could culminate in a ceasefire and peace negotiations".


Orban meets Puting during the Third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in October 2023. PHOTO © Grigory SYSOYEV / POOL / AFP

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Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has reportedly planned a visit to Moscow to meet...

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