Hungary's Orban says NATO and Russia can reach a deal, sanctions don't work

Hungary PM says agreement in Ukraine-Russia crisis is possible
Hungary PM says agreement in Ukraine-Russia crisis is possible Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
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MOSCOW -Differences between Russia and NATO on the Ukraine crisis are significant but "can be bridged," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Tuesday after nearly five hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Orban also argued that sanctions against Russia were counter-productive.

"I got convinced today that the existing differences in positions can be bridged and it is possible to sign an agreement that would guarantee peace, guarantee Russia's security and is acceptable for NATO member states as well," he told a joint news conference with Putin.

He said he hoped talks in the coming days and weeks would lead to an agreement.

The United States and European Union have warned Russia it will face sanctions if it invades Ukraine, which Moscow denies is its intention despite the fact it has massed more than 100,000 troops near the borders of its former Soviet neighbour.

But Orban, whose country is a member of the EU and NATO, said Russia had weathered previous sanctions well and they had actually caused more damage to Hungary by depriving it of some of its markets.

"Therefore I think this is an unsuccessful tool, a tool that is doomed to failure in international politics," he said.

While frequently clashing with his EU peers, the Hungarian leader has cultivated close ties with Putin and criticised sanctions in the past.

"I considered this visit of mine as a peace mission as well," he said. "I told President Putin that the EU is united, and there is not one EU leader who would want a conflict with Russia. This is especially true of us, Central Europeans."

Orban said he had asked Russia to ship 1 billion cubic meters of additional gas per annum under a long term gas supply deal which Hungary signed with Russia last year, and agreement on that was close.

Hungary, which was the first in the EU to buy and use Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 without approval for it by the European Medicines Agency, was also willing to buy the single-shot Sputnik Light version, and permissioning of the jab was in the final phases, Orban said.

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