Zelenskyy calls on Orbán to take tougher stance against Russia

Ukraine Crisis

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to impose economic sanctions on Russia and allow the transportation of weapon shipments destined for Ukraine through the country.

The Ukrainian President addressed the European Council, joining the organization's conference virtually from Kyiv on Thursday night.

"Hungary... I want to stop here and be honest. Once and for all. You have to decide for yourself who you are with. You are a sovereign state. I’ve been to Budapest. I adore your city. I have been many times - very beautiful, very hospitable city. And people, too. You have had tragic moments in your life. I visited your waterfront. I saw this memorial… Shoes on the Danube Bank. About mass killings. I was there with my family," Zelenskyy told the European Council, according to the official English-language transcript of his address published by

"Listen, Viktor, do you know what's going on in Mariupol? Please, if you can, go to your waterfront. Look at those shoes. And you will see how mass killings can happen again in today's world. And that's what Russia is doing today. The same shoes. In Mariupol, there are the same people. Adults and children. grandparents. And there are thousands of them. And these thousands are gone. And you hesitate whether to impose sanctions or not? And you hesitate whether to let weapons through or not? And you hesitate whether to trade with Russia or not?"

"There is no time to hesitate. It's time to decide already," he concluded.

Orbán rejects Zelenskyy's requests

Bertalan Havasi, head of the Prime Minister's Press Office, told Hungarian news agency MTI early Friday that Orbán has decided to reject the Ukrainian President's requests, arguing that they are contrary to the interests of Hungary.

Havasi said that Orbán had rejected both requests because they were against Hungary's interests. Hungary wants to stay out of this war, so it will not allow the transfer of arms and weapons to Ukraine.

At the same time, Hungary is doing everything it can to help those fleeing the war and provide them with humanitarian aid, the press chief underlined. He said that by Thursday, half a million Ukrainian refugees had already arrived in Hungary, and Hungary had delivered 2 billion forints in aid to Ukraine. 

He also argued that turning off the oil and gas taps would mean Hungarian families would have to pay the price of the war. Some 85% of Hungarian households are heated by gas, and 64% of Hungary's oil imports come from Russia, Havasi said, pointing out that oil refineries can only be converted to process oil from elsewhere after three to four years of preparation, and the amount of Russian gas currently used cannot be physically obtained from any other source.

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