Kyiv accuses Hungary of 'helping Putin' in Ukraine war
Ukraine on Thursday accused its neighbour, Kremlin-ally Hungary, of appeasing Russian aggression and disrupting EU unity following a telephone call between the Hungarian and Russian leaders.
"Apparently, after the elections, Budapest moved on to the next step - helping (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continue his aggression against Ukraine," the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Putin congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his party won a fourth term in general elections last week.
The two leaders spoke again Wednesday and Orban told Putin that Hungary would be prepared to pay Russia in rubles for gas imports.
"We believe this statement of readiness to pay for Russian gas in rubles is an unfriendly position towards our state. Such statements also contradict the consolidated position of the European Union," the Ukraine foreign ministry said.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said later on Thursday that his Ukrainian counterpart had not contacted him and urged Kyiv to "stop insulting us".
"They ask for and wait for help, while attacking and accusing us in an immoral way," he told Hungarian public TV from Brussels where he was attending a NATO meeting.
On Wednesday, Orban said that during the call he had urged Putin to implement an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, and he invited the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine to meet the Russian leader in Budapest.
"Proposals to hold peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in Budapest look cynical," Kyiv's statement said.
"If Hungary really wants to help end the war, here's how to do it: stop destroying unity in the EU, support new anti-Russian sanctions, provide military assistance to Ukraine, and not create additional sources of funding for Russia's military machine," the statement said.
It said that Hungary had been reluctant to acknowledge "Russia's undeniable responsibility" for "atrocities," and that this could "strengthen Russia's sense of impunity and encourage it to commit new atrocities against Ukrainians".
Orban had previously had one of the closest relationships to Putin of any EU leader.
During his call with the Russian president, he restated his opposition to Hungary sending weapons to Ukraine and to the EU imposing an embargo on Russian energy imports, on which Hungary is highly dependent.