Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 25 July 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Hungary Bets On Russia, Not Only For Energy Supplies
The Hungarian policy that favors Moscow is aimed at Orban’s retaining power amid a worsening economic situation in the country. This is why the Hungarian leader is accusing Western nations and Ukraine of war and austerity. Orban is going to war with Brussels while playing a Hungarian-speaking community in Romania’s Transylvania, seeking friendly ties with Russia to avoid the looming energy disaster. But Orban’s policy will eventually isolate his country, with its staunch allies like Poland turning back. Possibly those that will help Hungary will be just Serbia or other Russian allies.
Hungary refuse to veto new batches of sanctions on Russia, but try to mitigate their effects, and agreed on transit arms deliveries to Ukraine through its territory. Orban is famed for his warm relations with Russia––instead of supporting Ukraine. As Moscow is cutting off gas supplies for some EU and NATO allies of Hungary, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto went to Moscow on July 21 to discuss a gas deal. Under a 15-year deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year via Bulgaria and Serbia, and a further 1 bcm via a pipeline from Austria. Szijjarto told a news conference that Hungary needed a further 700 million cubic meters of gas on top of the existing supply deal and it would not be possible to buy that much without Russian sources. Hungary is also in talks with Russia about redirecting all of its gas shipments under the long-term supply deal to the Turkstream pipeline that brings gas to Hungary via Serbia, possibly amid limited Russian gas supplies through the Baltic Sea. Russia will consider a request from Hungary to buy more Russian gas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his Hungarian counterpart. Szijjarto also held talks with Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak and Denis Manturov, who is also a deputy prime minister as well as the minister of industry and trade. “Today the political situation is rather complicated, but we appreciate the position of the Hungarian government, which consistently defends its national interests. We are determined to further develop our relations, including in the energy sector,” Novak told Szijjarto, according to the statement. Szijjarto’s visit to Russia came on the same day the government announced that it was scrapping decade-long caps on gas and power prices for higher-usage households from next month — a move that will lead to considerable price hikes for extra energy consumption. Not incidentally, two days after Szijjarto went to Moscow to seal a deal with Russia, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban made a statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine that deviated drastically from what Western countries have said so far. While addressing the Baile Tusnad Summer University in Romania’s Transylvania region, home to a large Hungarian-speaking community, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called on the United States and Russia to hold peace talks to end the war in Ukraine. The Hungarian prime minister somewhat justified the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying that Russian demands for Western security guarantees “could indeed make sense.” He reiterated the Kremlin’s claims about an alleged Ukrainian military threat. Contrary to what Poland and the Baltic States believe, Urban said Russia would never target a NATO country, claiming this statement was nothing but a piece of Ukrainian propaganda.
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