Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the third New Silk Road Summit in Beijing on Tuesday. It is a huge infrastructure project involving more than 150 countries.
Traveling abroad has not been easy for the Russian president since the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. This is Putin’s second foreign visit this year, after his visit to Kyrgyzstan – a former Soviet republic – earlier this month. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in early 2022, this was the first time that Putin had visited a world power.
Viktor Orban was also present at the summit. Despite the war in Ukraine, Orban still maintains close ties with Moscow. Hungary said in a statement after the meeting that Orban “stressed in the conversation the importance of peace and said that ending the flow of refugees, sanctions and fighting is crucial for the entire continent, including Hungary.”
“Not a good sign”
But the image of him shaking hands with Putin causes “uncomfort” even at the highest levels of the European Union, according to diplomats. “The signal out is not positive,” a senior diplomat told Euronews. “It is important that everyone adheres to this policy. If there is a leader meeting with Putin, it is clearly not in line with the policy,” another diplomat said.
According to a spokesman for Charles Michel, president of the European Council, he was “strongly advising against” Orban meeting with Putin. But the Hungarian Prime Minister did not take this advice into account.
The US Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, described the meeting between Orban and Putin as “worrying.”
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