Estonian PM: It was unpleasant to see the leader of an EU member state shake hands with Putin, the criminal

October 19. 2023. – 08:43 AM



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It was very, very unpleasant to see pictures of the Prime Minister of Hungary, a member of the European Union, shake hands with Vladimir Putin.

– Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Reuters on Wednesday about Viktor Orbán's meeting with Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Tuesday. Referring to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Kallas asked the rhetorical question:

How can you shake the hand of a criminal responsible for a war of aggressive conquest? Especially being from Hungary, which also suffered at the hands of the Russians in the not so distant past.

As we wrote in our coverage of the meeting, this was Putin's first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an international arrest warrant for him on charges of the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, and the first time he had met with the leader of an EU country since the war began except for Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer's visit to Moscow last year.

In Paris, Kallas met French President Emmanuel Macron, to discuss new sanctions against Russia and the crises beyond the war in Ukraine. In her opinion, the war in Gaza, triggered by Hamas' terrorist attack, "must not distract us from Ukraine and we must double our efforts to show that we are thinking long-term".

This is not a frozen conflict, it is a war of attrition, she said, adding that Putin is gambling that Russia will endure the negative effects of war longer than Europe.

On the Russia-Ukraine war, Kallas said the most urgent thing to do "was to increase the cost of aggression again", i.e. to put more pressure on Russia with new sanctions and by plugging the holes and loopholes in the old sanctions. The Estonian Prime Minister said that a legal formula must be found to channel the frozen assets of Putin-linked oligarchs across Europe to Ukraine's defence efforts.

Incidentally, as we have reported, it is in the Baltic States that the net of sanctions has perhaps been most unraveled. In particular, even Kaja Kallas's position weakened in August after it emerged that, despite her being one of the main advocates of tightening the sanctions against Russia, a company partly owned by her husband was still active in Russia.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó responded to Kallas’ comment on Facebook by calling it hypocritical that she was shocked by Orbán's meeting with Putin. He pointed out that "it was recently revealed that Kallas's husband is part owner of a company that has supplied raw materials worth €30 million to a Russian factory even after the outbreak of the war, despite the fighting".

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