Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Leanings Towards Russia

Viktor Mihály Orbán is a Hungarian lawyer and politician who has been Hungary’s prime minister since 2010, holding the office from 1998 to 2002. His term has seen Hungary’s government shift towards what he has called “illiberal democracy” while simultaneously encouraging Euroscepticism and resistance to liberal democracy and establishing closer ties with Russia. In the 2021-2022 Ukraine crisis, Orbán was the first EU leader to interact with Vladimir Putin in Moscow in a visit he called “a peacekeeping mission.” Viktor Orban is determined to preserve good relations with Moscow; according to some, he is making himself the Kremlin’s mouthpiece.

Orban’s connection with Russia has been a subject of much discussion and conjecture. While he has maintained that Hungary’s foreign policy is independent and based on national interests, he has also been blamed for having close ties with Russia and adapting to Russian interests. Hungary’s energy relationship with Russia is one of the most noteworthy areas of concern. Hungary has strongly advocated the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which is being built to transport Russian natural gas to Germany.

He has criticized the EU for “prolonging the war” in Ukraine by sanctioning Russia and transmitting weapons and money to Ukraine instead of promoting a negotiated peace. He has been blamed for blocking aid to Ukraine. Orban refused to send the military assistance to Kyiv. In late March 2022, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky singled out Orban for his absence of support for Ukraine. 

On 27 February 2023, Viktor Orbán stated that Hungary supported the Chinese peace plan in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, despite resistance from Western leaders. Beijing’s 12-point statement that condemned unilateral sanctions would decrease strategic risks associated with nuclear weapons in Central and Eastern Europe, according to the statement.

“The United States is concerned about Hungary’s relationship with Russia. Putin’s illegal, unprovoked war against Ukraine violates international norms and represents a threat to the United States and its allies, including Hungary,” US foreign Office also raised concerns.

In 2021, his party submitted legislation to expurgate any “LGBT content” in movies, books, or public promotions and to restrict sex education in schools severely, prohibiting any information thought to “encourage gender change or homosexuality.” The law has been associated with Russia’s restriction on “homosexual propaganda.”

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