Hungary’s PM Orban meets Russia’s Putin in a Moscow visit condemned by Ukraine and EU leaders

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban traveled to Moscow on Friday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, causing major outrage among his fellow European Union leaders.

Orban was the first EU leader to visit Moscow since April 2022 and his trip was made even more controversial by the fact that Hungary has just taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Putin and Orban said they discussed ways to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Putin said Russia was “always open for discussion” for a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict but stressed that he stands by the terms it has already outlined.

Those terms would be unacceptable for Ukraine and its western allies. Ukraine has made it clear that any peace deal must include the return of Ukraine’s pre-2014 territory.

Orban’s press secretary Zoltan Kovacs said the prime minister’s visit to Moscow was of “special significance,” being the first since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Friday’s meeting marks the 14th time the two leaders have met since 2009, he said.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban met in Moscow on Friday. - Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban met in Moscow on Friday. - Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Orban has long been Putin’s greatest ally in Europe, a rare outlier among the otherwise united bloc. He has been campaigning for a ceasefire as opposed to military support for Ukraine.

“The talks with President Putin at the Kremlin focused on the Ukraine settlement and bilateral relations, emphasizing Hungary’s unique position to communicate with both warring sides,” Kovacs said in a post on X following the meeting on Friday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen criticized Orban’s decision to visit Moscow, saying “appeasement will not stop” Putin.

“Only unity and determination will pave the path to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” she added.

Kyiv was also quick to criticize Orban’s trip. “The decision to make this trip was made by the Hungarian side without approval or coordination with Ukraine,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Friday. “We remind that the principle of ‘no agreements on Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains inviolable for our country and call on all states to strictly adhere to it.”

The ministry said Ukraine’s peace formula – the plan outlined by President Volodymyr Zelensky – “remains the only realistic way to restore a just peace.”

Orban’s trip to Moscow came just days after his trip to Kyiv on Tuesday, his first visit to Kyiv since Russia’s full-scale war began. He used the trip to urge Zelensky to consider a “ceasefire” in order to “speed up peace talks” with Moscow – something Zelensky firmly rejected.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at