Hungary forces new energy deals with Russia amid Ukraine war

AP , Wednesday 12 Apr 2023

Hungary signed new agreements Tuesday to ensure its continued access to Russian energy, a sign of the country's continuing diplomatic and trade ties with Moscow that have confounded some European leaders amid the war in Ukraine.

Alexey Likhachev and  Peter Szijjarto during  a meeting in Russia
In this handout photo released by Communications Department of Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, Director General of State Atomi Energy Corporation Rosatom, 2nd left, and Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, 2nd right, talk during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 11, 2023. AP


Speaking at a news briefing in Moscow, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Russian state energy company Gazprom had agreed to allow Hungary, if needed, to import quantities of natural gas beyond the amounts agreed to in a long-term contract that was amended last year.

The price of the gas, which would reach Hungary through the Turkstream pipeline, would be capped at 150 euros ($163) per megawatt hour, Szijjarto said, part of an agreement that will allow Hungary to pay down gas purchases on a deferred basis if market prices go above that level.

Szijjarto's trip to Russia's capital was unusual for an official from a European Union country. Most members of the 27-nation bloc have distanced themselves from Russian President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine and sought to wean their countries off of Russian fossil fuels.

The Hungarian government has lobbied heavily in the EU to be exempted from any sanctions imposed on Russian gas, oil or nuclear fuel, and also has threatened to veto proposed EU actions against Moscow.

Szijjarto is one of the only officials from an EU country to have met with Russian officials in Moscow since the war in Ukraine began more than a year ago.

A February trip also made the minister the first senior official from an EU country to visit Belarus since the nation's authoritarian president, an ally of Putin's, initiated a harsh crackdown on opposition in 2020.

While in Moscow, Szijjarto met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Alexander Novak and the chief executive of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev.

During the news briefing, he insisted that access to Russian energy supplies was crucial for Hungary's security regardless of political considerations brought on by the war.

“As long as the issue of energy supply is a physical issue and not a political or ideological one, like it or not, Russia and cooperation with Russia will remain crucial for Hungary’s energy security,” Szijjarto said.

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