Ex-President Petro Poroshenko was barred from departing Ukraine for a scheduled meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as confirmed by Ukraine’s security service on Saturday leading to speculations about Russia’s alleged provocation. Despite prior parliamentary approval for his departure, Poroshenko, on Friday, revealed that he had been denied entry at the border. Notably, martial law in Ukraine restricts men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country without specific authorization.
The political party of Petro Poroshenko, European Solidarity, stated that the former president had arranged meetings exclusively in Poland and the United States. The party cautioned Ukraine’s security service, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), against engaging in political matters. Poroshenko’s denial at the border occurred on Friday.
According to the SBU, Poroshenko had planned a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, known for his connections with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and his opposition to initiating discussions on European Union membership for Ukraine.
In an official statement, the SBU claimed that Russia was orchestrating a series of “provocations” to undermine Ukraine’s reputation among its international allies, given the ongoing conflict with Russia, which has extended beyond 21 months. However, the SBU did not provide any evidence to substantiate these allegations.
Ukrainian officials, operating under martial law, are required to obtain special approval for international travel. Subsequently, Deputy Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Oleksandr Korniyenko, affirmed that he had revoked Petro Poroshenko’s permission to leave the country.
Korniyenko explained that despite lawmakers being allowed to travel for party political engagements, he had received a letter that compelled him to rescind the previously granted permission for Poroshenko’s trip.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, known for his close ties with Putin, opposes the initiation of EU membership talks with Ukraine, which is set to be discussed at the upcoming EU summit. Orban has suggested the creation of a “strategic partnership” with Kyiv instead. There have been consistent disagreements between Orban and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding various issues related to Ukraine’s EU membership aspirations. European Solidarity has called for a dialogue with Orban, emphasizing his veto power over accession talks.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oleksandr Korniyenko confirmed the cancellation of Poroshenko’s permission, citing a letter he received, though he couldn’t elaborate on its contents. Zelenskyy’s office has not commented on the matter, and Orban’s office has not responded to requests for comment.
Poroshenko, who served as president from 2014 to 2019, accused Zelenskyy’s administration of playing politics and cancelling the permission ahead of elections.
This dispute arises amid gradually increasing tensions between the government and opposition, focusing on internal issues such as budgets and appointments, in contrast to the initial unity at the conflict’s onset. Zelenskyy and Poroshenko had a contentious battle in the 2019 presidential election, with Zelenskyy winning in a landslide. Zelenskyy recently stated that holding a presidential election, normally scheduled for March 2024, is not timely under the current martial law.