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2/1/17

Hungary: Putin Heads To Budapest Amid Concerns Over EU Unity

Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading to Hungary for his second visit in two years, a development that has many in the European Union looking on with concern.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s February 2 meeting with Putin comes at a time of heightened worries within the bloc about the views of new U.S. President Donald Trump, who has expressed disdain for the European Union and a desire for closer relations with Moscow.

"We are concerned [about the trip], there is no doubt about it," an EU official requesting anonymity told RFE/RL on February 1. "It is Putin’s year. He's looking at a divided Europe, which the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia), especially Hungary, are making more divided due to actions like [inviting Putin to Budapest], and a United States that for the first time is providing no counterbalance to [Putin].”

Putin's visit -- his second to Budapest in two years and his third official meeting with Orban in that time -- is primarily to discuss economic issues, including the controversial Paks nuclear-power plant that Russia is contracted to build and further agreements on natural-gas purchases.

Putin has received few invitations to EU countries since Moscow’s illegal 2014 takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region and the introduction of EU sanctions against Moscow over its interference in Ukraine.

Read more: Putin Heads To Budapest Amid Concerns Over EU Unity

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