Hungarian prime minister arrives in Kyiv for Zelensky meeting

orbanviktor zelenskyvolodymyr 060224 AP

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday arrived in Kyiv, where he is set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky amid tensions between the two European leaders over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Orban, a key ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Europe, is making his first visit to Ukraine since Russia invaded in early 2022. He will focus his conversation with Zelensky on making peace, according to the Hungarian leader’s spokesperson, along with issues in the relationship between Budapest and Kyiv.

The meeting comes after Hungary assumed the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Orban has been critical of supporting Ukraine, though it’s unclear how much he will seek to thwart regional efforts as head of the bloc.

Orban talked with Zelensky at the inauguration of Argentine President Javier Milei in December, hinting around that time he would be open to a more formal meeting.

Along with tension over the war with Russia, Orban has accused Kyiv of infringing on the rights of Hungarian minorities in the western part of Ukraine.

Orban is the only European leader to have met with Russian President Vladimir Putin since he invaded Ukraine, along with Austria Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who traveled to Moscow in the spring of 2022 just after the war started to warn the Kremlin against continuing the invasion.

Orban, however, has been much more sympathetic to Putin and faced condemnation for his visit to Russia last year.

Hungary is considered the closest ally in the Europe for Russia. Orban has moved to delay the accession of countries into NATO and block or delay aid packages to Ukraine through the European Union.

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