Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed willingness Tuesday, Jan. 16,  to support Ukraine -- provided it is separate from the European Union's budget -- after vetoing 50 billion euros ($55 billion) in aid for Kyiv in December.

The EU is due to hold talks at an extraordinary summit on February 1 in a bid to make progress on the stalled aid package for Ukraine.

Following Hungary's veto, Brussels has been scrambling to provide a financial lifeline to the war-torn country as US support for Ukraine has also been tied up due to a political dispute.

After meeting his ally Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on Tuesday, Orban said Budapest would be willing to contribute its fair share to a new aid package, provided it happens outside the bloc's budget.

"Hungary is ready to support Ukraine, it will do so from its own budget, it does not want to take out loans jointly with anyone, and it does not want this issue to be included in the [EU's] budget," Orban told a news conference.

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"If we want to help Ukraine... we must do so without damaging the EU budget," he added.

"To give 50 billion euros from the EU budget for four years in advance is a violation of budgetary management and national interests. We do not even know what will happen in a quarter of a year," Orban said.

Both leaders have been critical of sending aid to Ukraine, although Fico supported the package Orban blocked in December.

Speaking alongside Orban, Fico said Hungary's proposal is "rational and meaningful".

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"If all 27 EU countries want to approve the budget revision and agree on aid to Ukraine, Hungary must be listened to, negotiated with and a joint solution with Hungary must be found," Fico said.

Orban is one of only a few European leaders who have not yet had any official talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the war started.

A few days after Orban's veto on EU aid, Zelensky proposed direct talks with him to "find solutions" to their differences.

The foreign ministers of the countries are scheduled to meet on January 29 to prepare the ground for a possible meeting between their leaders.

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Igor Guseinov
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