Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Saturday called for peace talks between the US and Russia to end the war in Ukraine and said the EU needs a new approach to the conflict.
“A new strategy is needed, which should focus on peace negotiations instead of trying to win the war,” Orban said during a speech in Romania. He said that only talks between the US and Russia “can put an end to the conflict because Russia wants security guarantees” that only Washington can give.
In the months leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and Russia were engaged in talks on security proposals put forward by Moscow. Chief among Russia’s demands was a guarantee that Ukraine would never join NATO, but the US refused to make the promise even though it was clear the alliance wouldn’t admit Kyiv.
After the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he had previously appealed to NATO to say clearly if his country could join or not. “The response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open,” Zelensky told CNN in March.
Orban said that the EU approach to the war has failed as European governments are collapsing “like dominoes,” and sanctions have backfired.
“We are sitting in a car that has a puncture in all four tires; it is absolutely clear that the war cannot be won in this way,” he said.
The Hungarian leader said he doesn’t think Ukraine can win the war because “the Russian army has asymetrical dominance.” He said that the more the West sends advanced weapons into Ukraine, “the more the war drags on.”
Orban usually finds himself at odds with the rest of the EU and secured Hungary an exemption to the bloc’s ban on importing Russian oil that’s due to take effect by the end of the year. Hungary is very reliant on Russian energy, and the IMF is warning the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could decline by over 6% if it’s cut off from Russian gas.
The EU as a whole will face a serious crisis if it loses access to Russian gas, which the bloc is preparing for as a consequence of its sanctions campaign. The head of the International Energy Agency said last week that the EU must reduce its gas consumption by a staggering 20% to make it through the winter.