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Ukraine war: Poland's Kaczynski surprises by slamming Hungarian ally Orban on Ukraine

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By AP  with Euronews
Viktor Orban (L) and Jaroslaw Kaczynski (R) are pictured in Budapest in April 2018.
Viktor Orban (L) and Jaroslaw Kaczynski (R) are pictured in Budapest in April 2018.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File   -  

The leader of Poland's ruling conservative party has used surprisingly strong words to criticise his ally, Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Jaroslaw Kaczyński said he has an “unequivocally negative” opinion of Orbán's refusal to condemn Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.

“When Prime Minister Orbán says that he cannot see clearly what has happened in Bucha, then he should be advised to go and see an eye doctor,” Kaczyński said on private Radio Plus on Friday.

The leader of the Law and Justice or PiS party also slammed the Hungarian leader for saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is one of his “opponents”.

The condemnation comes after years of close strategic cooperation between Poland’s and Hungary’s right-wing governments. The two European Union member states have supported each other in their separate rule of law disputes with Brussels.

But Kaczyński said Orbán's attitude toward the war in Ukraine was “very sad” and a “disappointment.”

The Polish deputy prime minister also said that further cooperation with Budapest is not possible unless Orbán's approach to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine changes.

“I believe that what Viktor Orbán is doing is linked to a hope of playing some role in bringing this conflict [in Ukraine] to a stop, but I think this is a dead-end, totally,” Kaczyński said.

Following his electoral victory last weekend, Orbán stated that he wants to strengthen partnership ties with Poland and put an end to the split over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary, alone among Ukraine’s EU neighbours, has refused to supply the embattled country with weapons and has not allowed their transfer across the Hungarian-Ukrainian border.

Orbán — who has condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine but avoided mentioning Putin by name — has also lobbied strongly against spreading EU sanctions against Moscow to Russian energy imports, on which Hungary is heavily reliant.

Hungary’s ambiguous position on the conflict raised the ire of Ukrainian officials, who have publicly called on Orbán to take a firmer stance in their defence.

In an address to EU leaders at the end of March, Zelenskyy told Orbán that “you must decide for yourself who you are with.”

The Ukrainian president also pointed to the devastating bombardment of the port city of Mariupol as a reason that Orbán should assist his country with weapons.

But Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has accused Kyiv of attempting to interfere in Hungary’s elections, and Orbán declared in a speech after his election victory that Zelenskyy had been one of the “opponents” he had defeated.

Last week, Poland and the Czech Republic also refused to attend a defence ministers' meeting in Hungary over Budapest's stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.