Hungary News Politics & International

Contrary to rest of Europe, Hungary sees increase in number of Russian diplomats

Vladimir_Putin,_Viktor_Orbán_(Hungary,_February_2015)_

Budapest, Hungary – While most EU and Western nations have significantly reduced the number of Russian diplomats stationed in their country, Hungary has taken an opposite path.

The number of Russian diplomats working in Hungary has increased by 30% over the past twelve months, according to Hungarian investigative reporter Szabolcs Panyi.

There were 62 Russian diplomats in Hungary at the end of October, compared to 46 by the end of November 2021, Panyi noted, most of them stationed in Budapest. This is nearly twice as much as the number of envoys serving in London, and over three times as much as in Poland.

“The Hungarian government is visibly refraining from any gesture that would alienate Russia, and it is in line with this trend that we are not banning Russian diplomats,” Panyi said.

The Hungarian Foreign Ministry claimed that the decision is “the sovereign right” of the country that sends diplomats and claimed that all envoys “go through the necessary national security checks.”

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February, European nations have expelled droves of Russian diplomats, many of whom have long been suspected of being Russian intelligence officers working under cover of diplomatic immunity.

By mid-May, more than 450 Russian diplomats had been banned in reaction to the war, most of them from European countries and NATO member states. The coordinated effort was led by countries like Poland, Germany, and France, each of which expelled more than 40 diplomats, as well as Slovakia, Italy, and Slovenia (more than 30).

Within NATO, notable exceptions to the coordinated expulsions included Hungary and Turkey.

Some countries, like the UK and the Czech Republic, had already expelled dozens of Russian diplomats prior to the war in Ukraine, in response to separate diplomatic incidents.