Putin loses Hungary, his biggest ally in the European Union

Putin loses Hungary, his biggest ally in the European Union
Putin loses Hungary, his biggest ally in the European Union

Every day that passes since the invasion of Ukraine, the isolation of Russian President Vladimir Putin increases more, as the man loses his allies day after day, in parallel with the slow progress of his soldiers in the field.

On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Putin had lost an ally in the European Union after Hungarian President Viktor Orban turned on .

It is expected that the latter will support all European Union decisions against his former friend, after he sent signals about this, as he expressed his acceptance of receiving Ukrainian refugees, following the Russian invasion of their country.

Orban, who has been in power since 2010, maintains a friendly relationship with the Kremlin leader in parallel with his restless relations with the European Union.

The Hungarian government led by Orbán, known for its tough anti-immigrant policy, opened its borders to Ukrainians fleeing the war.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 85,000 people have crossed the border to receive them in Hungary.

Several border towns such as Zahouni have converted public buildings into reception centers while residents distribute clothes and food to refugees, according to the Interior Ministry.

Orban has been one of Putin's biggest allies in the European Union, and has often opposed positions with his own union that do not align with Moscow's interests.

During the coronavirus pandemic, for example, Hungary became the first country in the European Union to buy the Russian Sputnik vaccine, even though it was not approved by European regulators.

Between the two men, there have been commercial and other energy deals over the past decade, as Hungary increased its share of Russian natural gas imports, from 9,070 million cubic meters in 2010 to 17.715 million cubic meters in 2019, according to Eurostat.

 But Orban has so far chosen the European Union in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and turned its back on Putin says the CNBC report.

After Russia last week formally recognized the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk, the European Union began work on an initial round of sanctions against Moscow.

But there was one major concern in Brussels: Will Hungary and its nationalist leader Orban agree to it?

An EU official, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the discussions, told CNBC last week that it is an important moment for Orban to show whether he is loyal to Russia or the EU.

 It is important for Hungary to join and strengthen the unity of the European Union  said another EU official, who preferred not to be identified.

But the response of the Hungarian prime minister surprised many political experts. Contrary to what was expected, the Hungarian government announced that it supports Ukraine's application for membership in the European Union, and the union's issuance of severe sanctions against the Russian oligarchy and the Russian economy.

Orban has always boasted of his close relationship with Putin, speaking at a joint press conference in early February, noting how the two have worked together over the past 13 years, according to Politico.

Political expert, Daniel Gross, described in an interview with the American network  CNBC  that Urban is an opportunist, who changed his position in anticipation of the upcoming election dates.

He continued:  He wants to be a respected leader and his people feel that he does not want to fight a battle against the European Union. 

Orban faces elections on the third of next April, and opinion polls show that the race will be sharp against the opposition party.

Hungarian lawmaker Katalin Czeh said Wednesday that Orbán is in a  very difficult  situation because he tried to promote the idea that Russia is a friend, but Russia has proven that it is not.

At the same time, Hungarians seem to be pro-EU  with a poll showing that more than 70% of respondents consider it  unfavorable  for their country to leave the EU  according to Statista.

Andreus Torsa, a Central and Eastern Europe advisor at Teneo, a consultancy, said those who voted for Orbán's party in Hungary had previously not thought about his close ties to Russia, but said it would now be interesting to see if public opinion had changed. following the invasion.

Torsa also said that  pressure from the Europeans and the unexpected scale of Russian aggression likely influenced Orban's decision to support the EU. But he noted that Hungary is still opposed to the transfer of arms to Ukraine across its borders.

A Hungarian government spokesman said on Twitter Tuesday that the country is not sending soldiers or weapons to Ukraine because that could put the lives of Hungarians at risk .


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