Hungary's Orban denounces EU sanctions on Moscow

Moscow (AFP) –


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday denounced European Union sanctions imposed on Russia, during a visit to President Vladimir Putin in Moscow ahead of the Moscow World Cup final.

Hungary has unusually warm ties with Russia for an EU member state, and Orban and Putin visit each other regularly.

"Because of these measures (sanctions imposed over Russian activity in Ukraine) we are losing opportunities," the Hungarian leader said in comments reported by Russian news agencies.

"If there were no sanctions, we would be able to cooperate more and make greater advances," he said.

Putin said relations between the two countries were developing in a positive direction.

Orban is set to attend the World Cup final between France and Croatia later in the day.

Orban has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over the rule of law and immigration, though Hungary was one of 18 EU members to expel Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain this year.

The Hungarian leader has said that rather than liberal democracy he favours building an "illiberal state" and praised Russia as a model.