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Ukraine Russia war: Hungary’s Viktor Orban urges ceasefire in Kyiv



Ukraine Russia war: Hungary’s Viktor Orban urges ceasefire in Kyiv

Viktor Orban arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday for an unannounced visit having just taken over as rotating president of the European Union.

While in Kyiv, the Hungarian prime minister said a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine could speed up negotiations to end the war that followed Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Mr Orban has been a critic of Western support for Ukraine and is seen as the European leader closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was his first visit to Ukraine in 12 years, although he has met Mr Putin repeatedly during that time.

During his joint appearance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the body language between them was not warm and neither took questions from the media after they gave their statements.

Mr Orban previously slowed agreement on a €50bn ($54bn; £42bn) EU aid package designed to support Ukraine in its defence against Russia.

But for the next six months his position as head of the European Council means he has an influential role as a figurehead for Europe. He came to Ukraine on his second day in that role for discussions, saying there was a need to solve previous disagreements and focus on the future.

In his statement following their meeting, Mr Zelensky said it was “very important to have Europe’s support for Ukraine maintained at sufficient level… it’s important for co-operation between all the neighbours in Europe to become more meaningful and mutually beneficial”.

In his own statement, Mr Orban stressed the need to work together but also said he had raised the idea of a ceasefire to hasten negotiations with Russia.

“I have asked the president to consider whether… a quick ceasefire could be used to speed up peace negotiations… I am grateful for his frank dialogue and his answers.”

Mr Orban also said: “My first trip has taken me here because the issue of peace is important not only for Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe. This war that you are suffering is deeply impacting European security.”

President Zelensky did not publicly respond to those comments.

Later, in a post on X, the Ukrainian leader said Mr Orban’s visit to Ukraine was a “clear signal to all of us of the importance of unity in Europe and taking collective steps”.

“We discussed the path to a just, lasting, and fair peace.”

Many Ukrainians believe a ceasefire would simply cement Russia’s hold over territory it has taken from Ukraine and, if negotiations were to take place, they would prefer them to be conducted from a position of strength rather than on the back foot.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country was open to “work with everyone and solve problems”.

“This work is difficult and time-consuming, but it eventually yields tangible results,” he told the BBC.

“During the visit, President Zelensky had a candid but constructive discussion with Prime Minister Orban about ways to achieve a just peace, not simply a ceasefire or peace talks.”

The two leaders also discussed bilateral issues including the 100,000 ethnic Hungarians who reside in Ukraine.

Mr Orban said the two countries were determined to put past disagreements behind them, and that he was reassured progress was being made on the rights of the ethnic Hungarians.

He also wished Ukraine “every success”.

The EU opened membership talks for Ukraine the week before Hungary assumed the EU Council Presidency.

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