February 25, 2024

Selinski meets his rival Viktor Orbán in Javier Maile in Buenos Aires

The Ukrainian president traveled to Argentina to attend the inauguration of President Javier Miley. He is looking for support from Latin America, and there he meets Viktor Orbán, his biggest opponent in Europe.

Ukrainian President Zelensky and Javier Miley after the handover in Buenos Aires.

Presidency of Ukraine / Imago

The two rivals were not distracted by the early summer weather in Buenos Aires or the luxurious setting in front of the conference surrounded by other heads of state: Volodymyr Zelensky and Viktor Orban got straight to the point. The Ukrainian head of state, gesturing intensely and frowning, spoke to Hungary’s Orban, who responded with crossed arms and short sentences, usually shaking his head.

It was a coincidence that the two heads of state met on another continent, 13,000 kilometers south of their capitals. The occasion was the inauguration of Libertarian President Javier Miley. Orbán, like former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro – who was also invited – views Miley’s libertarianism as a right-wing populist beacon of hope.

One-on-one conversation with Orbán as an opportunity

Zelensky used his trip to the United States to head to Argentina beforehand. Perhaps he saw in the fact that he would meet Orbán an opportunity to influence the Hungarian head of state in a one-on-one conversation. This week, the European Union is scheduled to negotiate financial aid for Ukraine and start accession talks. Orbán blocks both requests.

He criticizes Kiev’s inadequate fight against corruption, oligarchic structures and Zelensky’s concentration of executive power – exactly what the EU accuses him of.

Zelensky wanted to garner support for his first trip to Latin America. The majority of countries in the region have behaved in a neutral or friendly manner to Russia in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict. The leftist dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua support Putin.

Zelensky’s first invitation to visit Latin America came from Miley

So far, no Latin American head of state has invited Zelensky, said Igor Zhovkva, foreign policy advisor to the Ukrainian president. After his election three weeks ago, liberal Miley pledged his support to Selensky and asked him to come to his inauguration.

This was also a good opportunity to meet with a few Latin American heads of state who have so far shown solidarity towards Ukraine: these are primarily the recently appointed centre-right politicians Daniel Noboa (Ecuador) and Santiago Peña (Paraguay) as well as the centre-right politicians who have been appointed Recently appointed. Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou of Uruguay remained in office for a long time. Also present was Gabriel Buric, Chile’s leftist president, who also condemned Russian aggression from the beginning.

These presidents are also united by their age: they are all between 36 (noboa) and a maximum of 53 (mil) years, making them a generation younger than Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (78) in Brazil or Andrés Manuel López Obrador (70) in Mexico.

Zelensky wants to persuade Miley to organize a conference between Ukraine and Latin America in Argentina. Argentina has also previously shown solidarity with Ukraine under the leftist government of Alberto Fernandez, which has just left office. In light of waning solidarity with Ukraine around the world, Zelensky is trying to secure Latin American votes on international committees. Latin America constitutes an important voting bloc in the United Nations.

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The relationship between Lula and Zelensky was broken

In the Mercosur economic community, Ukraine’s supporters now hold a majority – with the exception of Bolivia and Brazil. However, Miley and Zelensky are unlikely to succeed in engaging the Brazilian president in Ukraine. His relationship with Zelensky is bad after Lula accused Ukraine of complicity in the Russian attack.

It is not known whether Cielinski has somehow managed to mend his broken relationship with Orbán in Buenos Aires. No official bilateral meeting was held between the presidents of the two countries.