Yesterday, Tuesday October 17, Vladimir Putin shook hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Beijing. This is the first photographed handshake between the Russian president and an EU leader since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. An affront to Europe?
Hungarian Prime Minister maintains personal relationship with Putin
The Hungarian leader has maintained a close personal relationship with Putin over the years and has been slow to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and maintain a pro-Russia stance in the conflict.
Vladimir Putin expressed his satisfaction at having Hungary as an interlocutor in Europe, which strives to maintain its ties with Moscow despite the war in Ukraine.
Viktor Orban has always adopted a conciliatory stance towards Russia, which remains a key source for Hungary’s energy needs. The Hungarian MTI agency, citing government statements, said the two leaders discussed “gas and oil supplies and nuclear energy.”
Since the start of the conflict, the Russian president has not met any EU leader
Vladimir Putin has since become a pariah in Western eyes. His country is targeted by sanctions which affect many sectors of the economy and most European countries have strived to shake off their energy dependence on Moscow.
Putin is also forced to limit his travel abroad, because he is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for his role in the deportation of Ukrainian children since the start of the war.
It remains to be seen what Europe’s position is regarding the continued rapprochement between Orbán and Russia. For the moment, we can consider this a snub for Europe.