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Friday, Jan 27, 2023

Orbán, Schröder and Berlusconi only EU politicians on Putin’s naughty or nice list

Orbán, Schröder and Berlusconi only EU politicians on Putin’s naughty or nice list

This year’s greeting list from Vladimir Putin reflects Russia’s isolation — and who are Moscow’s last remaining friends.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and former heads of government Silvio Berlusconi and Gerhard Schröder are the only EU politicians who received Vladimir Putin’s Christmas and New Year wishes this year, according to a statement published by the Kremlin on Friday.

Putin’s message to Orbán, the only EU leader to receive well wishes, remained deliberately vague. “Despite the difficult international situation, relations between the countries have maintained a positive trend,” the statement says of Hungary. “The President of Russia also confirmed his intention to continue joint work on topical issues on the bilateral agenda.”

Alongside Orbán, Putin sent warmer messages to Alexander Lukashenko and Aleksandar Vučić, his Belarusian and Serbian counterparts, and the two closest friends of Moscow on the European continent.

“Thanks to close allied cooperation, Russia and Belarus withstood the difficulties and trials of the outgoing year with honor” and managed to “effectively resist the unprecedented political and sanctions pressure,” the statement reads.

Belarus was used by Russia as a base to launch its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, and both countries are under international sanctions, crippling their economies.

This year’s edition of the Kremlin’s traditional list of “congratulations” to heads of state and government is considerably shorter than last year’s, reflecting Russia’s isolated position on the international scene. However, some former heads of state are still on the nice side of the list.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, now a Senator and part of the coalition led by Giorgia Meloni, was congratulated. He made headlines last October over leaked recordings in which he boasted about his friendship with Putin.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who this summer was moved out of his parliamentary office in disgrace because of his ties to Putin, might find comfort in seeing he made Putin’s list again this year.

In 2021, Putin addressed his greetings to more than a dozen European heads of state and government, including those of Italy, Germany and France.
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