European Commission urges Hungary not to buy gas from “war criminal” Putin

European Commission urges Hungary not to buy gas from “war criminal” Putin

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson has called on Hungary to step up efforts to stop buying Russian energy and reduce its vulnerability to Kremlin influence.

“Even Hungary knows that by continuing this activity, they grant Russia the right to manipulate their market,” Simson said in POLITICO’s Sustainability Future Week summit.

Russian giant Gazprom announced last month that it would increase natural gas supplies to Hungary this winter following talks between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing.

“Even Hungary knows that by continuing this activity, they are giving Russia the right to manipulate their market. I know of one political leader in Europe who shakes hands with this war criminal and no one else,” Simson said.

The European Commissioner pointed out that the European Union has sharply reduced its dependence on Russian gas, and even such vulnerable members as Slovakia and Bulgaria plan to abandon energy imports from Russia by 2027 gradually.

She also regretted that Hungary is continuing to build the Paks II nuclear reactor, which depends on support and nuclear fuel from Russia.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev signed the document.

“Paks II is a €12 billion expansion project of the Paks nuclear power plant, led by Rosatom and financed mainly by a Russian government loan. Last year, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority issued a permit for the project.

Under an agreement signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually through Bulgaria and Serbia and another 1 billion cubic meters through a pipeline from Austria. The agreement with Gazprom is for 15 years.

In September, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó acknowledged that Budapest continues collaborating with Russia because of its dependence on Russian energy resources.

The EU is working on its 12th package of sanctions to be imposed on Russia since the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in February 2022.

Despite calls from several EU states, the package is not expected to include significant limitations on buying Russian liquified natural gas. But it will include new measures against the Russian war economy and against those who help Mosco circumvent existing sanctions. 

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