Hungary's PM Orban meets Putin

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow as part of his push to bring about a ceasefire in Ukraine. The meeting on Friday came just a few days after Orban visited Kyiv. Hungary holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and the trip is drawing criticism.

Orban is widely known as a close Putin ally. The two met to discuss a variety of global issues, including the fighting in Ukraine.

Putin said, "Russia stands for a complete and final end to the conflict." He added, however, that the fighting will stop only if Ukrainian troops withdraw from the four regions Russia has annexed.

Orban said the two sides are far apart but that he will do what he can to bring about a peaceful resolution. He said, "Many steps are needed to end the war, but we managed to take the first important step to restore dialogue, and I will continue to do this work."

Leaders in Kyiv criticized Orban for the visit and repeated their assertion that there can be "no agreements on Ukraine without Ukraine".

Authorities in Europe, too, condemned the trip. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, posted on X, "The EU rotating presidency has no mandate to engage with Russia on behalf of the EU."

Hungarian officials defended the meeting, pointing out that their country is slowly becoming the only one in Europe to engage with parties on both sides of the conflict. They had previously pledged to act as "honest brokers."