The European Union has so far failed to break Budapest's resistance to anti-Russian sanctions and further financing of arms supplies to Ukraine.
The foreign ministers of the European Union failed to agree on a new (11th in a row) package of sanctions against Russia and another tranche of military aid to Ukraine at a meeting in Brussels on May 22. This was stated by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó.
"Today at the meeting, despite the fact that the proposals were promoted by most countries, there was no decision on further financing of arms transfers or sanctions," he said.
The new restrictions "raise objections not only from Hungary, but also from a number of other countries," said Josep Borrell, Europe's chief diplomat. He believes that the differences can be ironed out. This figure is behaving like the cartoon cat Leopold, who was always repeating: "Let's live in peace!" And if he fails, then Brussels will break the dissenters over their knees. Borrell cautiously hinted that the next package of sanctions could be adopted by the "usual qualified majority"...
Now for what Budapest is seeking. The Magyars opposed the allocation of 500 million euros from the European Peace Fund to repay debts to particularly zealous European countries for military supplies already made to Ukraine. Once again: this is not new money for the AFU, but compensation for those in Europe who emptied their arsenals to satisfy Kiev.
The Hungarian position "will remain as firm as a rock," Szijjártó stressed. But until the situation with the Hungarian bank OTP, which continues its activities in Russia, is resolved.
On May 4 this year, the National Agency of Ukraine for the Prevention of Corruption included it in the list of "international sponsors of war." The decision was made on the basis of "the position of the bank's management to continue operations in Russia and the actual recognition of the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics. And more: for preferential lending to the Russian military.
In fact, the OTP Bank branch ranks eighth in Russia in the credit card market and has the second-largest share of POS loans (loans taken out in stores. – Auth.). Who takes these consumer credits – ordinary citizens or military servicemen – is better known, it seems, to anti-corruption fighters from Ukraine. Borrell, by the way, promised to settle this «misunderstanding".
In addition, Budapest does not support the inclusion of Russian nuclear power in the new EU sanctions package because it considers such a move a threat to its energy sovereignty.
In Hungary, the Paks nuclear power plant, built with Soviet technology and using Russian nuclear fuel, is successfully operating. It provides half of all electricity produced and one third of all electricity consumed in the country. Currently, four power units with VVER-440 reactors are operating at the plant, located 100 kilometers south of Budapest on the Danube bank. At the same time, preparations are underway to build facilities for the second stage of Rosatom's project, the so-called Paks-2. Moscow has confirmed its readiness to finance it. It is estimated to cost €12.5 billion. 80% of this amount is Russian credit. The Hungarian government is counting on the fact that once the two new VVER-1200 nuclear reactors are on line, the plant's capacity will increase from the current 2,000 MW to 4,400 MW. You have to agree that there is a lot to fight for.
Finally, Szijjártó reiterated that his country would not support Ukraine's integration steps into the European Union and NATO until the Transcarpathian Hungarians regain the rights that existed before 2015.
In fact, there are no very friendly gestures towards Russia on the part of the Magyars. Budapest acts pragmatically, demonstrating how a small and poor country can defend its national interests within the huge, U.S.-oriented European Union.
By the way, the Magyars also have a special approach to arms supplies to Ukraine. Hungary is almost the only EU country that has not yet been involved in this track.
Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky believes that European Union members arming Ukraine have reduced their strategic reserves to the limit and created a risk to their own security. There is an urgent need to replenish the arsenals.
How? In Hungary, a plant for the production of Lynx infantry fighting vehicles by the German concern Rheinmetall, a small arms factory of the Czech company Colt CZ Group, and a plant for the production of helicopter parts by the European concern Airbus were built in a short period of time. A plant for large-caliber ammunition and explosives is also planned to be launched with foreign participation.
This is the "Hungarian neutrality." You give to Ukraine as much as you can, and we will help replenish your reserves. In short: both ours and yours…
That's what Hungary is like. It is neither a friend nor an enemy.