Russia will 'consider' Hungary's request for more gas: Lavrov

AFP , Thursday 21 Jul 2022

Moscow will "consider" Budapest's request for more gas this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, as Russia seeks to develop its "strategic" ties with Hungary.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gestures while speaking to the media during a joint news conference with Hungary s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, July 21, 2022. AP


Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto made a previously unannounced visit to Moscow to discuss the purchase of an additional 700 million cubic metres of natural gas.

The amount represents around 6.7 percent of Hungary's 2020 natural gas consumption, according to data from Hungary's natural gas pipeline operator FGSZ.

"Today our colleagues expressed the Hungarian government's interest in a new purchase of natural gas this year. This request will be ... considered," Lavrov said during a press conference with Szijjarto.

Russia has halted or reduced gas deliveries to a number of EU countries for a variety of reasons that are considered to be pretexts for retaliation for European sanctions over the Kremlin's military operation in Ukraine.

Hungary, which largely depends on Russian oil and gas, last week declared a "state of danger" over the energy crisis. It currently imports 65 percent of its oil and 80 percent of its gas from Russia.

Inflation in the central European country has hit double figures in recent months for the first time in 20 years, despite a range of price caps on key products.

The Hungarian minister was also due to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the pointman for Russia's energy sector.

The visit comes a day after the European Commission urged EU countries to reduce demand for natural gas by 15 percent over the coming months to secure winter stocks and defeat Russian "blackmail".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has trodden a fine line during the offensive, not blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin, and sending humanitarian aid but no weapons to Ukraine.

Orban, who was re-elected to a fourth term in April by a landslide, has frequently clashed with Brussels and frustrated EU efforts to reduce Russian energy imports.

In June, the 27-nation EU formally adopted a ban on most Russian oil imports only after weeks of resistance from Hungary, eventually ceding to Orban's demand to exempt Russian oil delivered by pipeline.

Last week, Orban said Europe had "shot itself in the lungs" with sanctions aimed at Russia over its offensive in Ukraine amid tensions over energy supplies.

Lavrov said Russia will not let European sanctions "interfere with our cooperation, and we will seek solutions to make our cooperation impervious to these whims and attempts at punishment".

He also praised Russian-Hungarian bilateral relations.

"Our discussions today confirms their lasting and strategic nature. And we will develop them in every way we can," Lavrov said.

Short link: