EU forces Orbán to account for his meetings with Putin and Xi | International

The EU has received the news with concern and anger visits of Viktor Orbán to the Russian PresidentVladimir Putin, and the Chinese, Xi Jinping, in what the Hungarian leader calls his “peace mission” for Ukraine. These concerns have motivated the Hungarian prime minister, who holds the six-month presidency of the EU Council, to account for his recent meetings in Moscow and Beijing. In two confidential reports sent to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the leaders of the member states, the national populist Orbán summarizes the talks and argues that Europe must “launch” a peace initiative without waiting for the United States. The next two months on the battlefront in Ukraine will be “more dramatic than ever”, he claims in the documents accessed by EL PAÍS.

“Based on my conversations, I believe that there is now a greater chance that all possible proposals for a ceasefire and a road map for peace talks will be received positively,” said the report on his trip to Moscow last Friday, three days after his visit to Ukraine, where called for a ceasefire to the government of the invaded country. “The political leadership of the United States is limited due to the ongoing election campaign. Therefore, we cannot expect him to come up with such a proposal in the coming months. We must consider [que está] “In the spirit of European strategic autonomy, launch a European initiative,” Orbán says in the document, which takes the form of a diplomatic cable and which he sent along with a note after several leaders accused him of “instrumentalizing” the European Union. presidency and they asked for an explanation.

Budapest assures that the reports were already planned, regardless of the EU's reaction. The Twenty-Seven's diplomatic representatives will discuss the controversy at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

The Hungarian – the European leader closest to Putin and with particular affinity for Republican Donald Trump, who is aiming to return to the White House – also acknowledges having spoken to the Chinese president about possible scenarios for conflict after the US presidential election in November. “I put forward the idea that a newly elected president will be under pressure to achieve a quick political result even before coming to power,” he said. “A ceasefire prior to peace talks, as well as quick and intense peace talks, could be of interest to a new government,” he noted. Orbán to XiThe Chinese leader “did not comment on the possibility of this scenario,” continued the Hungarian prime minister, who is seen by many as a transmission belt for Putin and Trump.

Veteran Orbán sees himself as a mediator, despite the fact that his country has no major influence in the EU, apart from advocating and vetoing initiatives. For example, it usually delays the adoption of sanctions against Russia and has blocked more than €6 billion to reimburse member states for their military aid to Ukraine. His goal, he says, is to open channels of communication with both sides. Three days after his meeting in the Kremlin, in which he shook hands with Putin, with whom he spoke about peace in a speech without questions, Russian troops launched a high-intensity attack on Ukraine and They reached the country's leading pediatric oncology hospitalin Kiev.

Aid workers and civilians clear rubble at the Ohmatdit children's cancer hospital in Kiev after a Russian attack on Monday.Oleksandr Ratushniak (REUTERS)

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In his reports to the leaders, Orbán, considered the EU’s loose word and a politician who likes to polemicize, talks about the Kremlin’s arguments about the war against Ukraine and China’s vision of a large-scale invasion. He says that the EU should talk to the Asian giant – with which the community club has several trade disputes and which accuses NATO of helping Russia fuel its war efforts – to prepare a future peace dialogue and that Beijing has been transferred, which sees itself as an “honest broker.” “President Xi sees the Chinese policy as a policy of peace, while the policy of the United States and Europe is a policy of war in which Europe automatically follows the American line,” the Hungarian leader says in his report on his visit to Beijing.

More than one peace formulaOrbán says Putin considers the proposal put on the table in the spring of 2022 – the only time Kiev and Moscow participated in direct negotiations – with Turkish mediation “relevant.”

The plan would have seen Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula remain under Russian occupation for the time being, but without Ukrainian recognition, Kiev would renounce NATO membership, set a limit on the size and capabilities of Ukraine’s armed forces, and also stipulate that several Western countries would provide “security guarantees” and assistance to Ukraine, already a neutral country, in the event of an attack. Putin wanted to join the team of guarantors and requested that all of them – including Russia – approve any intervention by any of them to help Kiev, diplomatic sources familiar with the negotiations said. Putin’s Leonine claim, along with details emerging about the massacre in the town of Bucha by Russian troops, derailed the talks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Beijing this Monday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Beijing this Monday.XINHUA / Li Xueren (EFE)

Now, Orbán assures that Putin and Xi expect new peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to take place before the end of the year. And he says the Russian leader made no reference to his casualties on the front lines, but rather to Ukrainian casualties—which he estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 per month—as fighting has intensified in recent weeks. “That is why the president of Russia was surprised by the fact that the president of Ukraine rejected a proposal for a temporary ceasefire,” Orbán says. Putin has proposed a cessation of hostilities to Ukraine, under a set of conditions that effectively include the surrender of Kiev’s troops.

European leaders and EU institutions warned the controversial Orbán last week that he had no mandate to negotiate anything with Russia on behalf of Europe. Kiev has emphasized also that only the US, China and the Union (the bloc as a whole) can pursue some form of mediation. Moreover, several leaders accused the Hungarian of taking advantage of the EU Council presidency. Now Orbán assures in his reports that these criticisms and concerns are “unfounded” and that he has not submitted any proposal on behalf of the Council.

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