Orbán Putin

Hungary’s Orbán Slams Russian Sanctions

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    By cultivating close ties with Hungary and a few other Eastern European countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been able to extend Moscow’s influence and undermines the E.U.’s common stance on Russia.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met this week for the third time since 2014.
    • In April 2014, Hungary signed a controversial €10-billion ($10.8-billion) credit agreement with Russia, officially to upgrade its only nuclear plant.
    • While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a strong advocate of economic sanctions against Russia as a result of its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Hungary’s calls to end the sanctions have grown louder in recent months.
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    Audio

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Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban
Mr. Orbán, pictured right, is Russia’s closest ally within the European Union. Source: AP

It’s hardly the first time Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has tussled with European leaders. This week, he stepped up his criticism of the bloc’s Russia policy.

After a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Budapest on Thursday, Mr. Orbán condemned the sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia, according to a report in Die Zeit, a sister publication of Handelsblatt.

“Unfortunately, in the western half of the continent, anti-Russian policy has become fashionable,” Mr. Orbán said at a joint press conference.

Thursday’s summit in the Hungarian capital was the third meeting between the two statesmen in as many years.

Mr. Orbán, the leader of the conservative Fidesz party since 2003, started his political career as a staunchly pro-Western activist who in 1989 demanded the withdrawal of the “Russian occupier” from his country.

But ever since he became Hungary’s prime minister in 2010, he has morphed into Moscow’s closest ally within the E.U. and one of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s most vocal critics.

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