Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban snubbed Wednesday’s meeting in Warsaw with President Joe Biden and the other Bucharest Nine leaders after insisting Donald Trump was the only person who could broker peace with Vladimir Putin.
Orban has been an outlier on the war in Ukraine, chiding the European Union for prolonging the conflict and saying in October that only former U.S. President Donald Trump could negotiate a deal between the Ukrainians and Russians to end the conflict.
‘This is going to sound brutal, but hope for peace goes by the name of Donald Trump,’ Orban said at the time, arguing Biden wasn’t the man for the job because he has ‘gone too far’ in calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘war criminal.’
During the Wednesday afternoon meeting at the Presidential Palace, Hungary was represented by the country’s President Katalin Novák, who’s also a member of Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party.
Before the meeting, Biden called Putin’s decision to leave the New START nuclear arms treaty a ‘big mistake’ and vowed to ‘defend every inch’ of NATO as diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow further deteriorated.
Biden kicked off his third day abroad – which started with a secret trip to Kyiv to stand side-by-side with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion – by meeting with American staff at the embassy of Warsaw and then heading to the meeting with those countries representing NATO’s eastern flank.
As he arrived, Biden called it a ‘big mistake’ for Russia to pull out of the New START treaty, an announcement Russian President Vladimir Putin made in his state-of-the-nation address Tuesday, ahead of Biden’s own address in Warsaw about the war in Ukraine.
Seated at a round table with Bucharest Nine leaders, Biden sarcastically referred to Putin as a ‘friend.’
‘The irony is that – one of the last conversations I had with our friend in Russia, was I said, you keep asking for the Finlandization of NATO, you’re going to get the NATOization of Finland,’ Biden said.
Both Finland and Sweden are in the process of joining NATO.
‘As NATO’s eastern flank, near the frontlines of our collective defense, many of you know better than anyone what’s at stake in this conflict. Not just free Ukraine, but freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world,’ Biden told the Bucharest Nine leaders.
Biden swore that the U.S. would defend ‘literally every inch, every inch of NATO.’
‘What literally is at stake is not just Ukraine, it’s freedom,’ he reiterated later in his remarks. ‘The idea that over 100,000 forces would invade another country. Since World War II nothing like that has happened.’
Biden noted that since a year ago, ‘things have changed radically.’
‘We have to make sure we change them back,’ he said.