Hungarian PM Orban Meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping to End Russia-Ukraine War | Political News

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a visit to Beijing described as an “envoy of peace”, urged countries around the world to help resume direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.

Xi and Orban’s meeting in the Chinese capital on Tuesday came after the Hungarian leader made similar visits to Russia and Ukraine last week to discuss prospects for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, now in its third year.

Hungary took over the European Union’s rotating presidency this month and Orban has since embarked on a peace drive that has not garnered support from other European countries.

“China is a key country in creating conditions for peace in the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Orban wrote on social media platform X. “That is why I met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing just two months after his state visit to Budapest.”

Orban, widely seen as one of the European leaders with the closest ties to Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin, visited Moscow last week and drew criticism from Ukrainian and EU officials, who insisted he was not acting on behalf of the bloc as a whole.

Their rebukes did not deter President Orbán from postponing a similar visit to Beijing, which he called “Peace Mission 3.0” in a photo he posted on X.

Welcoming Orban, Xi called on Russia and Ukraine to ceasefire and urged other major powers to create a favorable environment for talks. A ceasefire can only be achieved if all major powers release “positive energy, not negative energy,” Xi said, according to state CCTV.

“It is in the interest of all parties to seek a political solution with an early ceasefire,” he added.

Orban, meanwhile, described China as a stabilizing force amid global turmoil and praised its “positive and important” peace initiatives, including a six-point peace plan it jointly announced with Brazil in May.

China claims neutrality in the conflict but in practice supports Moscow through frequent state visits, expanding trade and joint military exercises.

China-Hungary relations

Russia said it appreciated Orban’s efforts to clarify its position towards resolving the conflict, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Hungarian leader could not act as a mediator, a job only suitable for world powers.

“Are there many such countries in the world? Not many. I think the United States and China are such countries. And the EU is not one country, it’s the whole EU,” Zelensky said during a visit to Poland.

Zelensky added that Ukraine remains open to proposals from other countries on how to shape the path to peace, but that they should be in line with Ukraine’s vision, particularly the 10-point peace plan.

Ukraine wants to host a second international summit later this year to consider peace plans, though China, which has close ties with Moscow, did not attend the first meeting in June.

The United States, meanwhile, said it was concerned about the meeting between Orban and Xi. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the visit “clearly does not appear to be productive in terms of trying to get things done in Ukraine,” adding that “we are concerned.”

Hungary under Orbán has developed significant political and economic ties with China, and just two months ago Orbán hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hungary as part of a three-nation European tour that also included France and Serbia, which, unlike the other two, is not a member of the EU or NATO.

During the visit, China upgraded its ties with Hungary to an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership,” one of China’s highest diplomatic relations titles, which applies only to Hungary, as well as Belarus, Pakistan and Venezuela.

The European country is home to many Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery facilities, and in December Chinese EV manufacturer BYD announced it would open its first EV production plant in Europe in the south of the country.

Hungary’s prime minister has broadly opposed Western military aid to Ukraine and has blocked, delayed or weakened EU efforts to support Kiev and impose sanctions on Moscow over the aggression. Orban has long advocated for a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine but has not said what that would mean for the country’s territorial integrity or future security.

That stance has irked Hungary’s EU and NATO allies, who have condemned Russia’s aggression as a violation of international law and a threat to security in eastern Europe.

“At a time when Europe is increasingly trying to come together on its relations with China and Russia, Orban’s unannounced and uncoordinated visit does not help to signal or build a unified European coalition on EU-China relations,” said Eva Seiwert, a foreign policy and security expert at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

Seiwert added that Orban’s proposal for resolving the war is broadly aligned with Putin’s interests, but that the Hungarian prime minister could be helpful in organizing peace talks in the future.

Standing next to Orban in Moscow last week, Putin declared that Russia would not accept any ceasefire or temporary cessation of fighting that would allow Ukraine to “repair its losses, regroup and rearm.”

Putin has repeatedly demanded that, as a condition for any future peace talks, Ukrainian troops withdraw from four regions of Ukraine that Moscow claims to have partially occupied and annexed in 2022. Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected the demand, wanting Kiev to withdraw from their territory.

Meanwhile, China has in recent years expanded its influence beyond its “unrestricted” partnership with Moscow into Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Last weekend, China held “counter-terrorism” military exercises with Belarus, a key Russian ally, near the Polish border. The drills came after Belarus joined a China-Russia led regional security organisation last week.

Orban is next due to travel to Washington, DC, where NATO leaders are due to hold a summit to discuss ways to ensure the alliance’s continued support for Ukraine.

“Next stop: Washington,” Orban posted on his social media accounts on Monday.

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