The realities of power dictate that a ceasefire in the war in Ukraine should be negotiated not between Russia and Ukraine but between Russia and the United States, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a conference in Berlin on Tuesday. He also said that Hungary is in the “peace camp”.
Russia-US talks needed?
The essence of the war is in resources, Orbán told the event organised by German papers Cicero and Berliner Zeitung. And while Russia has a near limitless supply of energy, troops and human resources, Ukraine only has enough resources because it is receiving help from the West and the United States, he added.
Orbán said US President Joe Biden “went too far” when he labelled Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and a “mass murderer”. He said that in his view the “hope for peace” was therefore former US president Donald Trump.
“Hungary is in the peace camp,” Orbán said, adding that he supported an immediate ceasefire and peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. The Hungarian prime minister said 200 ethnic Hungarian conscripts had died in the fights.
Orbán said it was a “big problem” that “this time, unlike the Crimean conflict, the conflict could not be isolated”. He called it a “mistake” that while he had made a “peace mission” to Moscow before the war broke out, “nobody in the West thought they should negotiate”.
EU sanctions “primitive, catastrophic”
At the podium discussion with Alexander Marguier, editor-in-chief of the political magazine Cicero, and Holger Friedrich, owner of the publisher of Berliner Zeitung, Orbán said an “appropriate sanctions policy” would have stopped energy prices from skyrocketing and European economies would not be facing ruin.
Sanctions should be imposed “intelligently”, Orbán said. In the EU’s case, “a dwarf is imposing sanctions on a giant … and the dwarf will perish in the effort,” he said.
He called for a review of EU sanctions and an energy supply reform so the EU achieves independence rather than “merely switching masters” by pivoting from dependence on Russia to dependence on the US. The latter, he said, “would be more convenient politically, because Americans, unlike Russians, are democrats” but “it would not be good” because Europe, as customer, “should have four or five offers on the table to choose from”. Europe should be able to “buy energy for example from America, Algeria, Qatar, or even Russia”, he said.
“If we had done the sanctions right, energy prices would not be soaring,” the prime minister said, adding “sanctions could be launched in a way that we do not destroy ourselves in the area of energy, but the commission has failed to do so”. “Therefore when it comes to sanctions I am forced to say that I have a problem, and … unless you come and help I will use my veto … you cannot kick Hungarians aside and into a corner,” Orbán said.
“We are vulnerable”
Concerning energy imports from Russia, Orbán said it was uncertain whether Moscow would resume supplies “especially when certain groups launch terrorist attacks and blow up pipelines” and “they could not deliver even if they wanted to”. “We are very concerned that the same could happen to the last remaining high volume pipeline, the South Stream,” he said.
“Russian gas or oil in themselves are not bad, the problem is that there is nothing else and we are vulnerable,” and “the question is not whether the Russians can supply us but how many potential suppliers we have and if there is a competition between energy suppliers,” Orbán said.
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