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Strongmen strut their stuff as Orbán visits Putin in Russia – POLITICO

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Relations between Russia and the West could also be at their worst since earlier than the collapse of the Soviet Union, however there have been solely smiles and bad-old-boy camaraderie on show as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met on the Kremlin on Tuesday.

Social distancing precluded any public shows of bro-affection, so there have been no hugs or backslapping on the assembly in Moscow. As a substitute, the 2 leaders opened the go to sitting awkwardly on the far ends of a really, very lengthy convention desk.

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However for Putin, who is raring to point out that he’s not fully remoted in his confrontation with the West over Ukraine, and for Orbán, who’s up for re-election in April, the in-person assembly offered a mutually helpful encounter, in which they emphasised their international locations’ robust financial ties and celebrated their longevity — in workplace that’s.

“That is our twelfth assembly,” Orbán stated. “That’s somewhat uncommon. Those that had been my fellow leaders then in the Union all have already gone.” Referencing their “previous 13 years” working collectively, Orbán stated: “The 2 of us have the longest reminiscence of the European Union and Russia’s relationship.”

Orbán, pointing to his upcoming election, stated he had each intention of staying in workplace.

“I’m not planning to depart,” the prime minister stated. “I’ll run, and I wish to nonetheless keep — I’ve good hopes that for a few years we are able to work collectively,” he stated, chuckling.

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Putin, after all, has been Russia’s strongman chief because the resignation of former President Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999, having switched forwards and backwards between president and prime minister, and lately overseeing constitutional adjustments that might permit him to stay in workplace till 2036.

Orbán, who has been accused of undermining democratic rules and trampling on press freedoms, confirmed no qualms about casting himself as a longtime buddy and ally of the Russian chief who has taken much more draconian measures, jailing political opponents and labeling journalists and human rights advocates as terrorists and extremists.

“Tough occasions, however we’re in superb firm,” Orbán stated at one level, drawing laughter from Putin.

The tensions with the West over Ukraine got here up briefly throughout a joint press convention following their assembly, with Putin accusing the U.S. of attempting to bait Russia into an armed battle, and insisting that Washington and NATO had “ignored” Russia’s primary issues in their written replies to the Kremlin’s calls for for brand new safety ensures.

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Orbán, for his half, described his go to as a “peace mission.” And, momentarily claiming the mantle of EU spokesman, he informed Putin: “Not a single European Union chief desires a struggle and battle.”

“We’re prepared for an inexpensive settlement,” Orbán stated.

Putin, in flip, praised Orbán’s function in growing robust relations with Russia, and trumpeted the low gasoline costs that Hungary pays due to long-term contracts. The European Fee has been urging EU member international locations to not signal such long-term agreements for worry that they may hinder efforts to scale back using fossil fuels in the struggle towards local weather change. However the Hungarian chief stated on Tuesday that he had requested Putin to spice up the quantity of gasoline offered below the international locations’ long-term deal.

Orbán harassed that it was good to fulfill in particular person regardless of the cumbersome social distancing measures, and he expressed particular admiration for the dimensions of Putin’s desk.

“In my life I’ve by no means sat at such a protracted desk earlier than,” the Hungarian chief stated.

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