The Ukrainian leader has been seen talking to his Hungarian counterpart at the inauguration of Argentine President Javier Milei
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has seized an opportunity at the inauguration of Argentina’s new president to chat briefly with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose government has threatened to block a major aid package for Kiev from the EU.
Videos posted on social media, including one on the Argentine Senate’s YouTube channel, showed Zelensky speaking with Orban at Sunday’s inauguration of Javier Milei in Buenos Aires. The two men can be seen looking intently at each other and gesturing as they speak while other VIP guests at the event chat with each other nearby.
The videos didn’t include any audio of the Zelensky-Orban conversation. Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak, said on Wednesday that he was trying to arrange a formal meeting between his boss and Orban. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said such a meeting would only make sense if there were some chance it would have a “positive outcome.”
Orban stands in the way of the EU’s plan to give Ukraine €50 billion ($54.4 billion) in economic aid and €500 million in military assistance to help fund Kiev’s conflict with Russia. He has argued in recent weeks that the bloc should reconsider its policies regarding Ukraine, including the aid pledge and Kiev’s proposed accession to the EU. As an EU member, he can veto both proposals. Orban also has suggested that it’s unrealistic to think Ukraine can defeat Russia militarily.
An EU summit is scheduled to be held later this week in Brussels. The bloc had been expected to vote on whether to begin formal membership talks with Ukraine, but Reuters reported on Friday that the decision may be postponed.
The presidents of Armenia, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Ecuador were reportedly among the other world leaders who attended Milei’s inauguration. Other guests included Spanish King Felipe VI, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Like Bolsonaro, Milei is a populist who has called for radical changes and a new era of leadership following years of leftist rule. He warned on Sunday of painful austerity measures following a “sad history of decadence and declinef,” noting that the country’s economic crisis will worsen before a recovery begins.
“The political class left the country at the brink of its deepest crisis in history,” he said in his inaugural address. “We are not looking for nor do we want the tough decisions that will need to be made in the coming weeks, but regrettably, they didn’t leave us any option.”