Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday he was proud to keep communications open with Moscow after angering fellow EU leaders by meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
“We keep open all the communication lines to the Russians. Otherwise, there will be no chance for peace,” Orban told reporters ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels. “This is a strategy. So we are proud of it.”
The premier added: “We are the only one who is speaking on behalf and in favour of the peace, which would be in the interest of everybody in Europe.”
Orban, who has maintained ties with Moscow, shook hands with Putin during a meeting in Beijing on October 17 in which they discussed energy cooperation.
It was a rare meeting for Putin with a European leader since he launched the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which borders Hungary.
The Hungarian leader has previously spoken out against the Western sanctions on Moscow in response to its Ukraine offensive.
The meeting had also raised eyebrows among Hungary’s NATO partners.
Ambassadors of the military alliance’s member states and Sweden met in Budapest last week to discuss their growing concern about Hungary’s deepening relations with Russia, the US embassy told AFP.