Vladimir Putin was in Budapest on Tuesday on a diplomatic meeting with his friend and fan, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The two are discussing Hungary’s energy deal with Russia, and they came to an agreement on the matter, but the real purpose of Putin’s visit is to demonstrate that he still has friends abroad, even in the EU. The AP reports:
The rise in support for Russia despite its aggression in Ukraine is playing out among some eastern European governments and ordinary people who may identify more with the political certainties of Russia than the complicated, messy and sometimes painful ways of Western-style democracy.
For Putin, now shunned by many nations around the world, the visit is important because it shows he still has friends even within the European Union. Orban has much more down-to-earth concerns: He is seeking a good price for the Russian gas Hungary desperately needs, as well as assurances that Russia will make good on a promise for a 10 billion euro loan to upgrade a Hungarian nuclear reactor.
Putin and Orban held a program, and as they mugged for the cameras the discussion turned to Ukraine. Putin said that Poroshenko should allow his troops, some 5,000 of which were reportedly surrounded in Debaltseve, to surrender. Early on Wednesday the town fell, and Ukrainian troops are beating a hasty retreat.Putin is really twisting the knife, according to WSJ reporter Paul Sonne, who tweeted some key quotes:
Putin: “To lose is always painful. It’s a hardship especially when you lose to yesterday’s miners and tractor drivers. But life is life."— Paul Sonne (@PaulSonne) February 17, 2015