The EU’s united response to the war may not last long with Viktor Orbán around. We must hope he’s not joined by Marine Le Pen
That picture of Vladimir Putin, alone at the end of a long Kremlin table, may prove one of the enduring images of this war – but it is deceiving. Because although every day brings fresh confirmation that the Russian dictator is drenched in blood, with the rocket attack on Kramatorsk only the latest evidence, he is not friendless. Naturally, he has allies among his fellow brutal world leaders, whether in Minsk, Damascus or Beijing, but he has chums in less expected places too. In a conflict cast by both sides as Putin v the west, the Russian leader has powerful friends behind enemy lines – and, even if his western admirers have had to engage in some deft footwork since the invasion of Ukraine, they are gaining ground.
The most flagrant example is Viktor Orbán, apostle of what he calls “illiberal democracy”, who last weekend secured a fourth term as ruler of Hungary. It would be wrong to say he was “re-elected”, because that might imply a genuine election, which this wasn’t: Orbán controls the Hungarian media and the entire apparatus of the state.