5 points on Viktor Orbán’s visit to Moscow

  1. The Hungarian Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow and his participation in Mikhail Gorbachev’s memorial service are not only significant symbolically, but diplomatically, too, as western leaders and the western alliance is seeking to isolate Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the sanctions that followed it. Thus, Viktor Orbán was the only western leader to partake in the service.
  2. Hungary’s non-conformist approach to Russia (we can note Péter Szijjártó’s Order of Friendship or vetoing EU sanctions against Russian patriarch Kirill as examples) does not materialize mainly in the gesture in this case (since Gorbachev is celebrated as a hero in much of the western world), but in the fact that PM Orbán participated in the memorial service.
  3. Although the PM’s most recent trip to Moscow relates back to the anti-communist past of Fidesz during Hungary’s democratic transition, it does not stand in stark contrast with the party’s current policies, since the PM has already been building his own anti-communist profile and his pro-Russian foreign policy and political relations with communist regimes (e.g., Vietnam, China).
  4. The Hungarian government’s high-level visits to Moscow, which stand in contrast with the only low-level meetings with Ukrainian officials, emphasizes Budapest’s negative views on Ukraine, while they are also undermining European and Euro-Atlantic unity in supporting Kyiv and condemning Russia’s invasion.
  5. The fact that the government took part in the memorial service, while western leaders did not (partly because they are on the Russian sanctions list and partly as a protest against Moscow’s policies), allowed the Hungarian cabinet to condemn western leaders for their hypocrisy and for giving up on their ideals, as shown by Mária Schmidt’s post about Germans.