The European Union needs a new strategy on the war in Ukraine as punitive sanctions against Moscow have not worked, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.
“A new strategy is needed which should focus peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal … instead of winning the war,” Orban said in a speech in Romania on Saturday.
Orban, reelected for a fourth consecutive term in April, reiterated that Hungary – a NATO member – would stay out of the war in neighbouring Ukraine.
He is facing his toughest challenge since taking power in 2010, with inflation in double digits, a weak forint currency and EU funds still held up amid a dispute with Brussels about democratic standards.
Orban has said before that Hungary is unwilling to support EU embargoes or limitations on Russian gas imports as that would undermine its economy, which relies heavily on Russian gas imports.
He said in his speech that the Western strategy on Ukraine has been built on four pillars – that Ukraine can win a war against Russia with NATO weapons, that sanctions would weaken Russia and destabilise its leadership, that sanctions would hurt Russia more than Europe, and that the world would line up in support of Europe.
Orban said this strategy has failed as governments in Europe are collapsing “like dominoes”, energy prices have surged and a new strategy was needed now.
“We are sitting in a car that has a puncture in all four tyres: it is absolutely clear that the war cannot be won in this way,” Orban told his supporters.
He said Ukraine will never win the war this way “quite simply because the Russian army has assymetrical dominance”.
Orban called for Russia and the United States to hold negotiations to bring about an end to the war.
He said “only Russian-US talks can put an end to the conflict because Russia wants security guarantees” only Washington can give.
He also criticised Western leaders for ignoring Russia’s security concerns before Moscow invaded.
“With US President [Donald] Trump and German chancellor [Angela] Merkel, this war would never have happened,” he said.