Budapest, Hungary – Despite growing pressure to introduce harsher sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, Hungary has dismissed calls to go after Russia’s energy industry.
“We will not support sanctions on Russian oil and gas,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reiterated this week, saying that Budapest was ready to do “everything” it could to ensure the country’s energy security.
Following his landslide election win on April 3, Prime Minister Viktor Orban had already said that extending EU sanctions to the oil and gas sectors would constitute “a red line” for Hungary.
The Hungarian government has also indicated that it could break ranks with the EU and give in to Russia’s demands to pay gas supplies in rubles instead of euros.
Accused of indirectly funding Russia’s war machine over its failure to ban Russia’s energy imports, EU nations have proved unable to agree on wide-ranging sanctions against the import of gas and oil.
Countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, and Hungary have refused to go after the backbone of the Russian economy, pointing to the potentially disastrous impact it could have on domestic prices, job losses and energy security at home.
The EU imported about 40% of its gas and 25% of its oil from Russia in 2021, and paid more than €35 billion for Russian energy since the start of the invasion.
Criticised for doing Putin’s bidding and for its lukewarm response to Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Orban even traded directs barbs with Volodymyr Zelensky after the Ukrainian President publicly urged him to “pick a side” in the conflict.