President Katalin Novak

Hungary’s President Novak Traveling To Ukraine To Meet With Zelenskiy

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Hungarian President Katalin Novak is making her country’s highest-level official visit to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began nine months ago, according to the local index.hu website.

There was no official confirmation.

The website said Novak was invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has repeatedly expressed exasperation at the response to the war by NATO- and EU-member Hungary’s leadership and especially its entrenched Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The outlet did not say when Novak was traveling but said she would be making the trip to neighboring Ukraine by train.

Budapest has publicly refused to join fellow NATO states in supplying weapons directly to Ukraine and has staunchly resisted Brussels’ pressure to cut off its imports of Russian gas, although it has acknowledged Russian responsibility for the conflict.

Novak is a steadfast Orban ally and former lawmaker and minister of family affairs who took over as president in May.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said amid quarrels over a possible EU price cap on Russian oil on November 24 that Budapest had negotiated itself an exemption within the EU’s current proposal, meaning such a cap among other members would not affect Hungary if it were adopted.

Orban, who has ruled for 12 years and won a new four-year term in April, and his ruling Fidesz government have attacked Western sanctions as akin to the EU “shooting itself in the lung.”

He and Szijjarto are almost alone among senior Western officials in having made official trips to Russia since President Vladimir Putin launched the all-out invasion of Ukraine in February.

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Under Orban, Hungary has spurned Western warnings to court Moscow in energy and diplomatic areas as Budapest increasingly challenges EU policy including on free media, democracy, LGBT rights, immigration, and rule of law.

Novak has joined other Hungarian officials including Orban in keeping the fate of Transcarpathian Hungarians high on her list of priorities in relations with Kyiv.

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