Vladimir Putin will attend today’s opening ceremonies of the World Judo Championships in Budapest. While the black belt president enjoys
Vladimir Putin will attend today’s opening ceremonies of the World Judo Championships in Budapest. While the black belt president enjoys the festivities he will also hold talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
This marks Putin’s second visit to Hungary this year. In February, he met Mr Orban to discuss Paks II, a plan to build two nuclear plants in the country, which Russia will finance with $11.2 billion.
In his support for “illiberal” democracy and right-wing nationalism, Orban is a natural ideological ally of the Russian president. Putin can sympathise with the PM’s antipathy towards Brussels—in July, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Hungary for targeting foreign-funded NGOs. Yet, Budapest, dependent on EU funds, declined to veto anti-Kremlin sanctions’ renewal earlier this year.
Bashing Brussels is a win-win for Orban, lifting him into Putin’s good graces and firing up his supporters ahead of next year’s general elections. But, as allowing continued sanctions shows, Orban’s bark is bigger than his bite. Unlike Mr Putin’s beloved Judo, Hungarian diplomacy is not a simple one-on-one match.