Hungary will attend Ukraine conference in Switzerland, minister says

Meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the Czernin Palace in Prague

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary confirmed on Thursday it would attend a Ukraine summit on June 15 in Switzerland despite having cordial ties with Russia, which has not been invited to the gathering.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and NATO, has been a vocal critic of Western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has maintained warm ties with Moscow, drawing criticism from both sides of the Atlantic.

"Hungary will be represented at the conference at foreign minister level," Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said while attending an economic forum in St Petersburg.

The summit aims to build broad international support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's peace proposals, which include the full withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Russia has dismissed the initiative as a waste of time.

Hungary has refused to provide military aid for Ukraine. It has also blocked measures at the EU level that amount to some 6.5 billion euros ($7.06 billion) in military aid to Ukraine to help fight Russia's invasion.

Budapest has long criticised Kyiv for what it says are curbs on the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, particularly with regard to native-language schooling. It used the issue to oppose the opening of Ukraine's EU accession talks last year.

Meanwhile, as countries in western Europe have made serious efforts to wean themselves off Russian gas, Hungary has been receiving 4.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year from Russia under a 15-year deal signed in 2021.

(Reporting by Boldizsar Gyori; Editing by Gareth Jones)