Putin sticks to his demands in front of Orban, boos from the EU

(Keystone-ATS) Vladimir Putin stuck to his guns on Friday by receiving the Hungarian Prime Minister at the Kremlin to talk about the conflict in Ukraine, seeing in Viktor Orban the representative of the EU, despite denials from Brussels.

“Russia wants a total and definitive end to the conflict, the condition for this is (…) the total withdrawal of all Ukrainian soldiers from the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and from the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions,” said the Russian president in front of the press at the end of his meeting, reiterating his demands already swept aside in mid-June by kyiv and the West.

“There are still many steps to take” to “end the war” and “establish peace”, for his part recognized the Hungarian leader, alongside Vladimir Putin.

“There are fewer and fewer people who can speak to all the belligerents and Hungary” is able to do so, he assured.

Victor Orban visited the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, where President Volodymyr Zelensky also reiterated his demands for the complete withdrawal of Russians from Ukrainian territory and the payment of reparations.

The Russian head of state, for his part, took advantage of the visit of his only ally in the European Union to embarrass Brussels, all a few days before a NATO summit in Washington where he will be question of Ukraine.

At the start of this meeting, he stressed that the Hungarian Prime Minister had arrived in Moscow “not only as a long-standing partner but also as President of the Council” of the Union.

The ambiguity of the double hat of Mr. Orban, head of the Hungarian government and president of the Council of the EU, has bristled Budapest’s European partners, who appear to be unwavering supporters of Ukraine and have cut corners. bridges with Russia.

Condemnation of kyiv

For the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, Mr. Orban “does not represent the EU in any way”, while the Kremlin spokesperson, Dimitri Peskov ironically said that he did not belong to Moscow to understand the “subtlety of powers” ​​in Brussels.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, which brings together the leaders of the Twenty-Seven, reacted on Thursday evening to the unofficial announcement of this trip.

“The rotating presidency of the EU has no mandate to engage in dialogue with Russia on behalf of the EU,” Mr. Michel wrote on aggressor, Ukraine is the victim” and that “no discussion can take place without Ukraine.”

EU solidarity with kyiv will not weaken, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured.

While this visit risks blurring positions in the run-up to the next summit of the Atlantic Alliance, the secretary general of this organization Jens Soltenberg insisted on the fact that “Viktor Orban does not represent NATO at these meetings, he represents his own country”, admitting however that the Alliance had been “informed” of this trip.

kyiv, which maintains complicated relations with Budapest due in particular to its pro-Russian positions, castigated this trip to Moscow which was decided “without any agreement or coordination with Ukraine”.

“We recall that, for our country, the principle ‘no agreement on Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains inviolable,” insisted Ukrainian diplomacy.

Russian demand for surrender

The conditions for ending the conflict set by Russia are that Ukraine cedes to it the four regions it claims to annex, in addition to Crimea, and that it renounces its alliance with the West. De facto, a demand for capitulation.

In kyiv, Mr. Orban ruled that Ukraine must accept a ceasefire, a prerequisite rejected by the West and the Ukrainians.

Ukraine is demanding a “just peace” which involves the withdrawal of Russian troops and respect for its territorial integrity.

The rotating presidency within the EU, which Hungary holds until the end of the year, allows the country which holds it to control the agenda of the meetings of the 27, with the exception of those of the foreign ministers, a significant but not absolute power, according to several European diplomats.

Budapest had promised to ensure a “normal” presidency, despite the numerous disagreements, particularly over Russia, between it and its partners.

“We will act as an impartial mediator”, affirmed the Minister of European Affairs Janos Boka, before adding that Hungary will take the opportunity to put forward its “vision of Europe” and “rectify the bar (…) in the right way”.

This article is originally published on swissinfo.ch

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