Hungary's Orban calls for Russian-US peace talks for Ukraine

Nationalist leader Viktor Orban lashed out at the European Union's strategy on the conflict in Ukraine. PHOTO: REUTERS

BAILE TUSNAD, ROMANIA (AFP) - Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Saturday (July 23) called for US-Russian peace talks to end the war in Ukraine, lashing out at the European Union's strategy on the conflict.

In a speech in Romania, the 59-year-old ultra-conservative leader also defended his vision of an "unmixed Hungarian race" as he criticised mixing with "non-Europeans".

Orban condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, but maintains an ambiguous position on the conflict.

Before Moscow sent in troops, he had sought close ties with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. And last week, he said Europe had "shot itself in the lungs" by imposing sanctions against Moscow over the military operation.

"We're sitting in a car with four flat tyres", he said on Saturday, of efforts to stem the bloodshed.

"A new strategy is needed, which should focus on peace negotiations instead of trying to win the war," he said.

Orban said "only Russian-US talks can put an end to the conflict because Russia wants security guarantees" only Washington can give.

The EU, he added, "should not side with the Ukrainians, but position itself" between both sides.

The sanctions "will not change the situation" and "the Ukrainians will not come out victorious", he said.

He said: "The more the West sends powerful weapons, the more the war drags on".

Orban claimed the "war would never have broken out if Donald Trump were still head of the United States and Angela Merkel were the German Chancellor".

Orban, who was re-elected with a landslide victory in April, has ruled Hungary since 2010 and brought in "illiberal" reforms based on the "defence of a Christian Europe".

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On Saturday, he warned against mixing with "non-Europeans".

"We move, we work elsewhere, we mix within Europe," he said at the Baile Tusnad Summer University in Romania's Transylvania region, home to a large Hungarian community.

"But we don't want to be a mixed race", a "multi-ethnic" people who would mix with "non-Europeans", he said.

The Hungarian premier has targeted migrants from Africa and the Middle East, as well as NGOs that support them, restricting the right to seek asylum and putting up barriers at borders.

The European Court of Justice has condemned Hungary several times as a result.

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