Hungarian PM meets Xi Jinping during surprise visit to China; Russia-Ukraine also discussed

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made a surprise “peace visit” to Beijing and met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing.

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“China is a major force in creating conditions for peace in the Russia-Ukraine war,” Orban wrote on social media platform X after meeting the Chinese president on Monday.

“This is why I have come to meet President Xi in Beijing only two months after his official visit to Budapest,” the Hungarian leader said, after Hungary took over the six-month presidency of the 27-member European Union Council earlier this month.

In a video posted on X from the tarmac of Beijing airport on Monday, Orban described China as the only world power that is “clearly committed to peace”. He also posted a photo and captioned it “Peace Mission 3.0”.

Orban's visit to China follows his visit to Russia and Ukraine last week, during which he discussed the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two countries that began in February 2022.

On Monday, at the same time as Xi Jinping was hugging Orban in the Chinese capital, Russian missiles struck Kiev, the Dnieper and other Ukrainian cities – killing at least 31 people, two of whom died in a Kiev children's hospital, the American daily The Washington Post wrote.

Orban has demonstrated “his political will to negotiate”, the TASS news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“We take it very positively. We believe it can be very useful,” the Kremlin official said.

According to Russian state media, Orban visited Kyiv and Moscow on July 2 and 5 and proposed first to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and then to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to consider the possibility of a ceasefire and prepare for peace talks.

Addressing a press conference later, Putin said Russia was not in favour of a ceasefire because Kiev could use it to its advantage. Instead, he advocated a complete end to the conflict in Ukraine, TASS reported.

White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said Orban's visit “will make no progress for peace and is counterproductive to promoting Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence.”

Responding to a question during a press briefing on 8 July, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the US views Orban's visits to Kyiv and Moscow as “concerning”.

“Look, before the visit to Russia, you saw the prime minister of Hungary visit Ukraine. We thought that was an important thing for him to do. We thought it was a productive step. And we certainly would welcome real diplomacy with Russia to make it clear to Russia that they need to respect Ukraine's sovereignty, they need to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, but it doesn't seem at all like this visit was that,” Miller said.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, Hungary’s prime minister opposes extensive Western military aid to Ukraine and has blocked, delayed or weakened EU efforts to aid Kiev and impose sanctions on Moscow for its aggression.

Orban will then travel to Washington DC to attend a summit of NATO leaders, where he will discuss ways to assure Ukraine of the alliance's continued support.

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