Skip to content

Is Hungary’s Orbán Bringing the Chinese Peace Approach to Zelenskyy?

Yesterday, in the hours before Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán greeted the arrival of China’s President Xi Jinping, Orbán held a long phone discussion with neighboring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Both sides agree that the call was extensive and serious, but then it becomes an exercise in reading the tea leaves. Orbán’s press chief Bertalan Havasi reported that the major topic of their lengthy discussion was the issue of war and peace. Orbán said that Hungary is ready to contribute to every initiative and effort that could lead to brokering peace. He reported no result, but just that the two agreed to continue such bilateral consultations.

Ukraine made no such emphasis on war and peace in its report. Zelenskyy said on social media X that they discussed matters of “good-neighborly relations” and “cooperation in trade, energy, and logistics.” (Hungary and Slovakia are the only EU/NATO member nations that border Ukraine, where both have ethnic minorities, about whom they have expressed concern.) It was “a lengthy and meaningful” call. In his one indirect acknowledgment that the war and negotiations were discussed, he wrote that “Hungary’s position is important to us in terms of bringing peace closer and of common regional security.” But even then, he simply added that he had invited Orbán to his “no-Russia” meeting in Switzerland—and that surely would not have accounted for a lengthy discourse.

At this point, the mere fact that Zelenskyy had a long conversation with someone such as Orbán is the most solid evidence of a small oasis of dialogue in the desert of warmongering.