On a visit to Moscow, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for better relations between Russia and Europe.
"We all are interested in normalizing relations between Russia and Europe," Orban said during talks with President Vladimir Putin. “This corresponds to Hungary's interests.”
The two leaders have developed close ties, and Hungary has pushed for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia imposed over its actions in Ukraine.
Orban told Putin that the EU would not "automatically" extend sanctions against Russia when they come up for renewal at the end of July 2016.
The EU has made the prospect of lifting sanctions contingent on the fulfillment of a peace deal for eastern Ukraine, but Putin emphasized on February 17 that it's up to Ukraine to fulfill its end of the deal.
Putin has been eager to exploit divisions within the European Union over sanctions on Moscow and develop economic ties with European countries like Hungary that remain willing to keep up business relations with their old Soviet-era trading partner.