Viktor Orbán, Vladimir Putin’s Ally Within the European Union

The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has been vital in avoiding a typical reaction of the European Union in favor of Ukraine and against Russia.

Victor Orbán

Photo: European People’s Party

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Viktor Orbán, el aliado de Vladimir Putin dentro de la Unión Europea

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, almost the entire European Union has closed ranks in supporting Kyiv. It is said "almost" because there has been an essential ally of Moscow within the EU that has prevented 100% support. This ally has been the Hungary of Viktor Orbán.

Who is Viktor Orban?

Orbán is a far-right leader who has governed the central European country for over a decade. His ideology has always gone against the liberal policies that Western countries have tried to propagate.

For example, he is one of the leading defenders of the traditional family and in opposition to the rights of the LGBT+ community. Likewise, it pursues abortion since it insists on protecting the fetus from fertilization.

Orbán and his government have also been one of the primary opponents of receiving refugees in their country. He also attacked multiculturalism, which roofed him as an illusion. In the 2015 migration crisis, Hungary refused to accept Muslim refugees, considering them "invaders."

This shows that, ideologically, Orbán and Putin are closer than most European democracies. His ultra-conservative and Christian policies can also be found in Russia so much that different liberal leaders have accused Orbán in Europe of violating the human rights of the LGBTI+ community or for wanting to maintain an undemocratic regime.

Support for Vladimir Putin

Although Viktor Orban condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the time, from the beginning, he maintained a position of non-interference. Budapest has been one of the few European countries that have not sent weapons or resources to Ukraine.

From the beginning, he has denied that Hungary is part of the conflict, which for Orbán means not allowing NATO bases on his territory or creating a no-fly zone. Likewise, he also opposed imposing economic sanctions on Russian gas or oil.

In several speeches, he has even repeated the Russian arguments, which has caused discomfort among European leaders trying to maintain a union against Putin. Orbán also mentions that the closeness between Ukraine and NATO is an understandable reason for Russian action. For this reason, it has tried to maintain bilateral relations with the Kremlin. It has even been one of the countries that threaten to veto joint resolutions of the European Union. For example, in June 2022, he threatened to veto the Russia sanctions package for including Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Hungary's Dependency on Russia

The Hungarian authorities have stated that their country is one of those that mainly depends on Russia for energy. The Hungarian Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, would need four years and an investment of 750 million euros to find other energy sources. This reason is why Orbán's interest in not breaking relations with Russia.

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The same Hungarian prime minister has clarified that if his country wants to leave energy dependency, it must create more excellent connectivity with its European neighbors. Orbán explained that they should look to Romania, Croatia, or Slovenia.

However, many already view Viktor Orbán with suspicion. Within the European group, they see how the Hungarian maintains a position of blackmail for his benefit. Hungary has threatened to veto several EU proposals if it does not win favorable benefits from its allies and neighbors. This may work for you in the short term but may cost you in the long run. First, its European partners, such as the far-right government of Poland, with which it always builds a coalition against liberal governments, have indeed taken a position against Russia. Second, today Hungary is part of NATO or the European Union. Still, the other members of these groups view it with little confidence.

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