ER Editor: Here are our notes to this interesting analysis by Alexander Mercouris of Viktor Orban’s visit to Putin this past week (Feb 1) – a meeting of veterans. Orban has been in power since 2010; this is his 13th meeting with Putin where most European leaders have come and gone. The notes cover the first 17 minutes of the 30-minute video below.
This is the AFP report The Duran team give us: Orban pledges cooperation with Putin in storm of Ukraine crisis.
Here is the youtube link to their joint press conference.
Orban just visited Putin, which is an extraordinary meeting because of Orban. Orban noted that Russia is huge and operates on an entirely different scale to Hungary, yet Putin receives him as an equal.
These are substantive discussions, so where Orban has gone, others will follow – such as Macron and Olaf Scholz, the new leader of Germany. Suddenly, Orban has established himself as the leader of Europe! He’s hated by the neoliberal globalist order, subject to relentless campaigns, and facing a tough re-election campaign for April (which might has just become easier). He’s meeting with one of the 3 great leaders in the world and talking about all sorts of major topics. What other leader is there in Europe who could play such a game with such skill? Hungary is a small country, yet through sheer force of personality, he’s playing a huge role in international politics. He’s coming through as more powerful than Johnson, Macron, Scholz or Draghi. Hungary has suddenly become a player and an important leader within Europe. Macron can only follow.
What came out of the meeting? Bread and butter issues: Orban is against sanctions against Russia, especially those from 2014. Hungary benefits from deals with Russia, especially on energy. Hungary needs Russian energy, so he will be speaking out within Europe against sanctions and Russian energy flows. Also, trading deals will be done with Russia, particularly to reverse the loss of business with Russia because of the 2014 sanctions, which hurt Hungarian businesses inside Russia. More people are coming round to Orban’s view on sanctions against Russia, which indicates a changing wind within Europe. Also, he thinks Russia’s concerns over security (i.e. NATO is extending too close to its borders) are legitimate, which will influence others within the EU to seek a diplomatic solution.
Putin used his press conference with Macron to insist that the diplomatic solution must be two-fold: it must achieve internal settlement of the situation in Ukraine, via full implementation of the Minsk accords where agreement is reached between Kiev and the leaders of the Donbass, which would then lead to a new constitution. This would give autonomy to the Donbass and a federal structure for Ukraine. This is non-negotiable for Russia. Then there must be legally binding security guarantees for Russia: a negotiation about this is currently underway. Putin wouldn’t say too much about this. He mentioned that Macron is heading to Moscow – it’s perfectly obvious that Orban went to Moscow to prepare the ground for Macron’s visit. It’s not clear where this is all leading. Putin isn’t shifting his ground, Orban is endorsing it. So Macron will be moving to this position.
Both Macron and Orban are facing tough elections in April. But Orban is a player here – Hungary does have a stake in what is going on in Ukraine. Hungary has issues with Ukraine, too. So Orban wants to safeguard Hungary’s interests in Ukraine as well as within the region. Christoforou: There is a Hungarian diaspora in the region. He is positioning himself as a leader of all Hungarians around the world. Mercouris: these borders are all artificial in the region. They’ve all been reorganized over time. Hungary lost some territory in the creation of Ukraine. Orban isn’t only concerned about all of this, but he went out of his way to remind everybody of this. The policies of the Ukrainian govt are inimical to the minorities of Hungary and Russia in Ukraine.
Orban made it clear that he is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO. Hungary is a NATO member and has a right of veto over Ukraine joining NATO. His visit was a way to make all these points clear.
The Biden Whitehouse has changed its rhetoric on Ukraine. Jen Psaki was talking about a ‘Russian invasion’ that was ‘imminent’ and now it’s not! The French defence minister has toned down the rhetoric on Russian military exercises in the Belarus region and the rhetoric of ‘invasion’. So the tone is now changing. The French are now openly saying the ‘Russian invasion’ is a myth. The Ukrainians have been saying it for a while, too. The only govt saying this is the UK one. The Ukrainians, French and Hungarians won’t accept this unsustainable narrative of Russian invasion and aggression. What did the Americans achieve by this? They spooked the Europeans with talk of sanctions, which would wreck things in Europe. They’ve spooked the international community with talk of a sanctions war, which would explode energy prices around the world.
Orban meets Putin in Moscow
The Duran: Episode 1215
Orban pledges cooperation with Putin in storm of Ukraine crisis
Featured image: Hungary Today
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