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EU country summons Ukrainian ambassador over insults

Hungary’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador on Wednesday over Kiev’s harsh criticism of Budapest’s stance on Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

It was “time for Ukrainian leaders to stop their insults directed at Hungary,” the EU country’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto wrote on Facebook.

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He also insisted that Kiev should “acknowledge the will of the Hungarian people,” referring to Sunday’s election, in which Prime Minister Viktor Orban won by a landslide and secured his fourth term in office.

Budapest had condemned the use of force by Russia, acknowledged Ukraine’s sovereignty and accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting, Szijjarto reminded.

However, the FM reiterated that Hungary wasn’t a party to the conflict in Ukraine, saying that “we want to and will stay out of it.”

Budapest, which has the closest ties with Moscow among the EU nations, had joined European sanctions imposed on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine. But it refused to send weapons to Kiev and insisted that it’ll never support any curbs on Russian energy.

Kiev has been vocal about its dissatisfaction over the stance taken by its neighbor. Ukrainian ambassador to Hungary, Lyubov Nepop, will now have to explain the words of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who claimed on Tuesday that Orban feared Russia’s influence and warned that Hungary would eventually be forced to choose between Moscow and the “other world.”

Tensions have been running high between the two countries in recent weeks, with Hungary accusing Ukraine of election meddling in an attempt to propel the opposition to power.

On their part, some Kiev officials suggested that Budapest could be looking to use the fighting in Ukraine to claim the country’s western Zakarpattia Region, populated by Hungarians, for itself.

Russia launched a large-scale offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebel regions by force.

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