An interview with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been published by Germany’s Bild entitled “Putin is stable”.
The prime minister said he did not attribute great significance to Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent mutiny. PM Orbán said the fact that such a thing could happen had been “a clear sign of weakness”, though the fact that the rebellion lasted less than 24 hours was “a sign of strength” on the part of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Those who speculate about Putin’s possible demise “don’t understand the Russian people or Russia’s power structures,” he said. Russia “operates differently from us … it is a different world with structures based on the military, the secret services, and the police; and these are very stable,” he said. “The Prigozhin mutiny is over and the war goes on,” he added. “This was not a development in the direction of peace, and I always consider this war from a peace point of view because I think achieving a ceasefire and creating peace is what’s most important,” PM Orbán said. “Putin is stable; he is Russia’s elected leader, he is popular, and the structures supporting him are strong enough,” Orbán said, adding however that he was “fighting for Hungary and not interested in Vladimir Putin or Russia”. “I am interested in Hungary … and what is happening between Russia and Ukraine is bad and dangerous for Hungarians,” he said. Orbán said he did not want to give the impression that he was against Ukraine’s chance of survival, but “based on reality, it can be established that cooperation between the West and Ukraine is failing.” He insisted it was “impossible” to win the war “the way the Ukrainians are fighting at the front” with the support of Western “money, information, and equipment”. Ukraine will run out of soldiers sooner than Russia “and that will be the decisive factor”, he said. “What matters most is what the US wants to do, because Ukraine is no longer a sovereign country, with no money or weapons of their own, and they can only go on fighting because we in the West support them, which means that if the Americans so decide that they want peace, there will be peace,” Orbán said.
The prime minister said he had supported peace from the start of the conflict and had maintained the position that “the conflict must not be made a global war but must be isolated, and control over developments should be transferred back from soldiers to politicians and diplomats.” Had there been talks from the beginning, “vast numbers of people would not have died and the country would not have been destroyed,” he said. Orbán urged a return to “politics and diplomacy, ceasefire and negotiations” because “that is the only way to save lives”. “Russians feel that time is on their side, which is not good for us but unfortunately that has prevailed,” he said. The only way to save Ukraine is “for the Americans to start talks with Russia, establish a security architecture and find Ukraine’s place in that new structure,” PM Orbán said. He said Ukrainians had the right to decide about their future and whether to be involved in the war. “At the same time, we have the right to decide whether to give money and weapons — if that’s what the Americans want. But we want peace,” he said. “We will not give money or weapons to anybody, including the Ukrainians, because we want negotiations, and to forge peace and a ceasefire,” he added. In response to a question concerning why Putin would stop at the border after victory and why would he not attack Poland and the Baltic countries, Orbán said the war in Ukraine “clearly showed that NATO is much stronger than Russia”. “Why would somebody who is weaker want to attack NATO,” he said. “It is obvious and clear that NATO is much stronger,” he added. Asked whether he considered Putin a war criminal, he answered “no”, and war crimes must be discussed only after the war ends. “If we want a ceasefire and want to follow it up with talks then we must convince the participants to sit at the table.” “It is not a good idea to say: come to the table and I will arrest you,” PM Orbán added. Peace requires talks, and talks require negotiators, he said. “And who else could negotiate than the leaders of the affected countries,” PM Orbán added. Commenting on Ukraine’s potential NATO membership, he said the treaty on NATO clearly states that a country involved in a war cannot join. The war in Ukraine is “not our war” and it is exclusively the task of the Ukrainian people to decide on “questions appearing on the moral and historical horizon”, he said. “So my advice to them is: do what’s best for them, but as to what’s best for them, they should decide because Ukraine is an independent and proud country and nation,” he added.