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Putin congratulates Hungary’s Orban on election win, hopes to further build ties

Nationalist Hungarian premier is one of Putin’s rare allies in Europe and NATO, refusing to allow weapons shipments through his country to Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a joint news conference after their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during a joint news conference after their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday after his party won a fourth term in office and said he hoped to further build ties, the Kremlin said.

“The head of the Russian state expressed confidence that, despite the difficult international situation, the further development of bilateral ties of partnership fully meets the interests of the peoples of Russia and Hungary,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The 69-year-old Russian leader has been increasingly isolated internationally after he sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

The nationalist Hungarian prime minister has been one of his rare allies in Europe and in NATO.

Diplomatically, Orban fell into line with EU support for Kyiv despite his longstanding closeness to Putin. But at home, Orban has struck a neutral and even anti-Ukrainian tone at times, refusing to let weapons for Ukraine cross Hungarian territory.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has singled Orban out for criticism over his reluctance to take a tougher stance against Russia.

Official results from Hungary’s general election on Sunday showed Orban’s Fidesz party had won a fourth term in office by a much greater margin than pre-election polls had suggested, after a campaign overshadowed by the Ukraine conflict.

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