Kyiv accuses Hungary of 'helping Putin' in Ukraine war

Hungary's leader told Putin that Budapest would pay Russia in roubles for gas imports

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Budapest in October 2019. AFP
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Ukraine on Thursday accused its neighbour Hungary, an ally of the Kremlin, of appeasing Russian aggression and disrupting EU unity after a telephone call between leaders in Moscow and Budapest.

"Apparently, after the elections, Budapest moved on to the next step — helping [Russian President Vladimir] Putin continue his aggression against Ukraine," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

Mr Putin congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his party won a fourth term in general elections last week.

The two leaders spoke again Wednesday and Mr Orban told Mr Putin that Hungary would be prepared to pay Russia in roubles for gas imports.

"We believe this statement of readiness to pay for Russian gas in roubles is an unfriendly position towards our state," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

"Such statements also contradict the consolidated position of the European Union."

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said later on Thursday that his Ukrainian equivalent had not contacted him and urged Kyiv to "stop insulting us".

"They ask for and wait for help while attacking and accusing us in an immoral way," Mr Szijjarto told Hungarian public TV from Brussels, where he was attending a Nato meeting.

On Wednesday, Mr Orban said that during the call he had urged Mr Putin to implement an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, and he invited the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine to meet the Russian leader in Budapest.

"Proposals to hold peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in Budapest look cynical," Kyiv said.

"If Hungary really wants to help end the war, here's how to do it: stop destroying unity in the EU, support new anti-Russian sanctions, provide military assistance to Ukraine, and not create additional sources of funding for Russia's military machine."

The foreign ministry said Hungary had been reluctant to acknowledge "Russia's undeniable responsibility" for "atrocities," and that this could "strengthen Russia's sense of impunity and encourage it to commit new atrocities against Ukrainians".

Mr Orban had previously had one of the closest relationships to Mr Putin of any EU leader.

During his call, he restated his opposition to sending weapons to Ukraine and to the EU imposing an embargo on Russian energy imports, on which Hungary is highly dependent.

Updated: April 07, 2022, 9:47 PM
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