During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lobbied for a deal for a large shipment of Russian natural gas amid Russian troops massing on Ukraine’s borders and fears of war.
Hungarian right-wing nationalist leader Viktor Orban said he had requested an extension of a 15-year gas contract with Russian energy company Gazprom during a press conference after meeting in the Kremlin (the central fortress of mediaeval Russian cities). In order to ensure large-scale distribution in the face of rising energy prices in Europe.
However, the two countries have yet to reach a formal agreement. Nonetheless, Orban’s request emphasises the two countries’ close economic and diplomatic ties. Despite being a member of the European Union and NATO, Hungary wants to strengthen its ties with Russia. The Hungarian offer of a deal has raised eyebrows in some European capitals, where Russia is viewed as a rogue state and a threat to the EU’s security as a whole.
Orban’s meeting with Putin on Wednesday was his 12th since taking power in Hungary in 2010, and it was Putin’s first with a Western leader since tensions erupted last year over a Russian troop gathering near Ukraine. It was the first time they had met in person. Hungary has remained silent on the Russian troops amassing on Ukraine’s eastern border. It’s worth noting that approximately one lakh Russian soldiers are camped on Ukraine’s borders.
During the meeting on Wednesday, however, Orban pressed for a diplomatic solution to de-escalate tensions with Ukraine, which have sparked fears of a Russian invasion. “I see my current visit as a peace mission as well,” Orban said.
Biden wants to appoint a seasoned diplomat as Ukraine’s envoy.
Despite the ongoing standoff between Ukraine and Russia, US President Joe Biden is hopeful of appointing a veteran diplomat as Ukraine’s envoy. According to a US official familiar with the decision, President Biden plans to nominate Bridget Brink, a Foreign Service officer, to be his ambassador to Ukraine.
Brink is the US Ambassador to Slovakia at the moment. When the US and its allies are on high alert and nearly a million Russian troops are stationed near Ukraine’s border, he will take over a long-vacant diplomatic post in Ukraine.