Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday he was proud to keep communications open with Moscow after angering other EU leaders by meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.
“We keep all lines of communication open for the Russians. Otherwise, there is no chance for peace,” Orban told reporters ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.
“It is a strategy. That’s why we are proud of it.”
Orban then said he was doing this in the name of peace.
“We are the only ones who speak in the name and for peace, which would be in the interest of all people in Europe.”
Orban, who maintains ties with Moscow, shook hands with Putin Oct. 17 at a meeting in Beijing, where they discussed energy cooperation.
It was a rare meeting for Putin with a European leader since he launched his invasion of Ukraine, which borders Hungary, in February 2022.
The Hungarian leader has previously opposed Western sanctions against Moscow in response to its offensive in Ukraine.
The meeting had caused a stir among Hungary’s NATO partners.
Ambassadors from the military alliance’s member states and Sweden met in Budapest last week to discuss their growing concerns about Hungary’s deepening relations with Russia, the U.S. Embassy told the AFP news agency.
The other head of state from Europe who traveled to the meeting with Putin was EU candidate country President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia.
He traveled to China to meet with Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reach an agreement on the purchase of weapons. Vucic even admitted that the most advanced weapons come from China.