El Pais: Orbán said that Putin and Xi Jinping expect peace talks between Russia and Ukraine by the end of 2024

Oleksandra Opanasenko

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, after his visits to Russia and China, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping expect new peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to be held by the end of 2024.

This is reported by the Spanish newspaper El Pais with reference to confidential reports received by the Chairman of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the leaders of the EU countries.

"Given the conversations [with Putin and Xi], I believe there is now a better chance that all possible proposals for a ceasefire and a road map for peace talks will be received positively," Orbán said in a report on his trip to Moscow.

Orban believes that Europe should come up with a peaceful initiative to end the war in Ukraine, without waiting for an offer from the US. In his opinion, the States are currently too busy with the presidential race in their country, so it is unlikely that they will offer a peace initiative in the coming months.

With Xi Jinping, Orbán discussed the pressures the future US president will face. According to him, this will require him to "get a quick political result even before taking office." So, according to the Prime Minister of Hungary, "a cease-fire before peace talks, as well as quick and intensive negotiations may be in the interests of the new administration." However, Xi did not comment on this scenario.

"If we cannot contain or stop this process, then in the next two months we will witness more dramatic losses and military events on the front lines than ever before," Orban explains the importance of starting negotiations.

El Pais notes that Orbán considers himself a mediator in negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, although Hungary does not have such leverage in the European Union. Its goal is to "open channels of communication with the two sides of the conflict." So Orban called on the leaders of the European Union to start a dialogue with Xi Jinping, who sees himself as an "honest mediator" in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

"President Xi sees Chinaʼs policy as a policy of peace, while the policy of the US and Europe is a policy of war, where Europe follows America," Orbán said in a report on the trip to Beijing.

Orban assures that Xi and Putin expect the start of peace talks with Ukraine by the end of 2024. In his conversation with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Putin did not mention Russian losses at the front, but spoke a lot about his calculations of Ukrainian losses. He told Orban about 40-50 thousand per month. He previously voiced the same numbers publicly.

Orban also noted that Putin considers the so-called Istanbul agreements of 2022 to be relevant — he wants any subsequent agreements to be concluded on their basis. Among other things, they provide for the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia, the limitation of the number of Ukrainian troops and the number of military equipment, and the recognition of Crimea as part of Russia.

Orbanʼs "peace tour"

On July 2, Orban came to Kyiv, where he held talks with Zelenskyy. It was his first visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale war. During the meeting, Orban called the war an invasion of Russia, but asked Zelenskyy for a ceasefire.

Already on July 5, Orban came to Moscow and met with the leader of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. One of the key topics of the meeting was the Russian Federationʼs war against Ukraine and its "peaceful settlement". Orban himself called his trip a "peace mission."

And already on July 8, Orban came to China as part of his "peace mission". On the same day, Zelenskyy said that he did not know that Orban would go to Moscow after Kyiv. He noted that Orban cannot be a mediator in the issue of ending the war — this role can be played by the USA, China and the collective EU, i.e. forces that are able to restrain Russia economically and militarily.