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Putin loses key ally in the European Union as Hungary’s Orban turns


Russian President Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban (Hungarian Prime Minister)

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Viktor Orban from Hungary is a long-standing ally. Russian President Vladimir Putin thorn in the sideA week filled with sharp reversals, quick political retreats and rapid political retreats has been experienced by many EU leaders.

After Russia last week formally recognized Luhansk and Donetsk as Russian-backed separatist-controlled regions in Ukraine, the EU started work on an initial round of sanctions against Moscow. There was one concern: Would Hungary and Orban, its nationalist leader approve of them?

CNBC heard from an EU official last week, but he preferred not to be identified due to the delicate nature of the conversations. He said that Orban used it as a crucial moment to prove his loyalty to Russia and the EU.

A few days later, the reaction of Hungary’s leader surprised many political analysts and was welcomed by Brussels.

CNBC Tuesday’s CNBC interview revealed that another EU official said “It is crucial that Hungary has joined the EU and fostered EU Unity.”

Orban boasts often of his intimate relationship with Putin. Orban, speaking at a joint press conference held in February, mentioned their 13-year collaboration and said that Russia and the European Union “have the longest collective memory of Russia’s leadership.” according to Politico.

During the ceremony, they were seen together. coronavirusFor example, pandemic. Hungary became the first EU nation to buy a Russian-made Covid vaccine — even though it wasn’t approved by European regulators.

There have also been energy and commercial agreements. Eurostat reports that Hungary’s imports have increased by a significant amount over the decade. They went up from 9.070 billion cubic meters in 2010, to 17.715 millions cubic meters in 2019.

Orban chose the EU as a result of the referendum. Russian invasion of UkrainePutin’s back, he has turned his back.

He announced that Hungary would welcome Ukrainian refugees, and that his government supports Ukraine joining the EU. This comes on top of the fact that the EU has approved tough sanctions for Russian oligarchs as well as the Russian economy.

Orban is an oportunist. These days, he would not get much out of supporting Russia. Putin’s support for the future is highly uncertain. This could make it difficult to win over his voters. “This is why he agrees with the sanctions,” Daniel Gros (distinguished fellow at CEPS), told CNBC via email.

CNBC called Tuesday to find out if the office of Prime Minister Orban wasn’t available.

Gros stated, “He desires to be respected and feels that his people don’t want to fight with the EU.”

Orban faces an election in April. opinion pollsThe race against the opposition party will be close, it is clear.

CNBC’s Wednesday interview with Katalin Cseh (a Hungarian lawmaker in the European Parliament) revealed that Orban was “very troubled” because he tried to convince people that Russia was a friend. But Russia isn’t a friend.

Hungarians also seem to favor the EU. A pollStatista reported that 70% of respondents considered themselves “disadvantageous” in the January survey.

Cseh said that Orban’s path toward Russia is not clear if he was reelected.

CNBC’s Andrius Tursa told CNBC the Central and Eastern Europe adviser at Teneo that Orban’s supporters in Hungary didn’t mind his links with Russia in the past. However, he said it was now interesting to observe if the public’s reaction to the invasion.

Tursa said also that Orban supported the EU because of “pressure” from Europe and “unexpected scale” of Russian aggression. He cautioned, however that Hungary opposes the transfer of weapons to Ukraine via its borders.

A spokesperson from Hungary’s government said Tuesday on Twitter that Hungary would not send troops or weapons into Ukraine, “as that would place Hungarian life in jeopardy.”

Germany, for example, is among the EU nations sending weapons to Ukraine — in what represents a massive shift in policy for the nation.