Feb 26, 2022 - World

Putin’s allies abandon him over Ukraine invasion

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a NATO video summit on Russia's invasion of the Ukraine at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on February 25, 2022. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Several of Russia's closest allies and former Soviet satellite states have sharply rebuked President Vladimir Putin over his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: As the Western world seeks to make Putin an international pariah, even his closest allies are resisting showing support for his assault on Ukraine.

Driving the news: Czech President Milos Zeman and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, both historically strong pro-Russian voices in the European Union, condemned the affront as "an unprovoked act of aggression," AP reports.

  • "Russia has committed a crime against peace," Zeman said.
  • Zeman, who earlier this week insisted that Russia wouldn't attack Ukraine, changed course and has called for harsh sanctions against Russia, including pulling out of the SWIFT financial system.
  • Orban, who has pursued a diplomatic and economic strategy with Putin called "Eastern Opening," condemned "Russia's military action."
  • “Hungary’s position is clear: we stand by Ukraine, we stand by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” said Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijijarto, per AP.

What's happening: Kazakhstan, one of Russia's closest allies, denied a request for its troops to join the attack on Ukraine, per NBC News.

  • The Czech Republic closed Russian consulates in the country and stopped issuing visas to Russians except for humanitarian cases.
  • The president of Bulgaria, which was Russia's closest ally during the Cold War, said the invasion was "absolutely inadmissible."
  • The ruling coalition leaders in Romania called Russia "the architect of the worst security crisis since World War II."
  • Moldovan President Maia Sandu said Russia’s attacks were launched "in violation of international norms," and the international community "unanimously condemns these military actions."
  • And Germany and Italy, which have strong economic ties to Russia, are both poised to support a European Union measure to cut Russia from the international SWIFT financial system.

Between the lines: China, which has deepened economic and military ties with Russia in recent years, has straddled the fence between supporting Russia's "legitimate security concerns" and calling for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity to be respected.

  • China abstained from a UN resolution on Friday criticizing Russia's attack, a departure from its usual practice of vetoing Western-led measures.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Axios' Zachary Basu contributed reporting.

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