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Orban lays out Putin's views on war in leaked letter to European Council

by Martin Fornusek July 10, 2024 9:08 AM 3 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 5, 2024. (Photo by Valery Sharifulin/ POOL / AFP via Getty Images)
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban summarized his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow while echoing the Kremlin's stances on its war against Ukraine in a letter to the EU obtained by Politico and published on July 9.

Orban sent the letter to the European Council President Charles Michel on July 5 in the wake of the former's trips to Kyiv and Moscow, which the Hungarian prime minister described as a "peace mission."

The EU has distanced itself from Orban's venture, saying he does not represent the European bloc despite Hungary's presidency of the Council of the EU.

Orban told Michel that according to Putin, "time is not on the side of Ukraine, but on the side of the Russian forces," without providing backing to this claim, Politico writes.

Breaking down his letter into nine key points, Orban claimed that the Kremlin estimates Ukrainian losses in the full-scale war at 40-50,000 troops every month, without mentioning Russian casualties.

Moscow keeps a tight lid over the information on its losses, but Kyiv estimates they have amounted to over 550,000 killed or wounded soldiers as of July.

Zelensky repudiates Orban, says ‘only strong alliances’ can be mediators between Russia, Ukraine
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 5, just days after meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

Leaked documents from the U.S. Defense Department suggested that Russia's losses may be higher than previously thought, amounting to 462,000-728,000 troops killed, injured, or captured by June.

President Volodymyr Zelensky named Ukrainian losses at 31,000 soldiers as of February. The numbers could not be independently verified.

Orban also said that Putin is "ready to consider any ceasefire proposal" that would not entail what the Russian president called "relocation and reorganization of Ukrainian forces."

The Hungarian prime minister said he told Putin that "many argue that it is in the interest of Europe to return to a period of economic growth based on lasting peace as soon as possible," stressing the need for a "direct dialogue."

Presenting his own suggestions to the EU, Orban said that a ceasefire and peace talks are possible and warned that the next two months could lead to "more dramatic losses and military developments on the frontlines than ever before" if the war does not end.

Orban called on Europe to take a leading role in negotiating a peace deal as the U.S. is increasingly distracted by its upcoming presidential election.

Hungary has remained the most Kremlin-friendly country within the EU and has repeatedly opposed Ukraine's accession to NATO and the European bloc, obstructed sanctions on Russia, and undermined Western aid efforts for Ukraine.

There have been no direct peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow since unsuccessful negotiations in early 2022.

While Ukraine called for a full withdrawal of Russian troops, Putin rejected this and instead demanded Kyiv give up four partially occupied Ukrainian regions that Moscow illegally annexed in 2022.

After meeting both Zelensky and Putin, Orban publicly acknowledged that the views of the two countries on peace prospects are "very far apart."

The prime minister's trip to Moscow sparked outrage in the EU, and his "mission" is to be discussed by European diplomats in Brussels on July 10, Politico reported.

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