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Hungary To Seek Additional Gas Supplies From Russia Amid Energy Shortage

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Budapest in October 2019.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Budapest in October 2019.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that Budapest will seek to step up Russian natural-gas imports at talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Hungary, a member of the European Union and NATO, in September signed a new 15-year gas deal with Gazprom under which the Russian state-run gas giant pledged to ship 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Hungary annually through lines that bypass Ukraine.

"I would like to increase the amount of gas to be delivered to Hungary from the levels agreed in the Russian-Hungarian gas contract," Orban, who maintains friendly ties with Putin, told public radio on January 28.

Ukrainian officials have slammed the gas deal between Budapest and Russia, with the Foreign Ministry in Kyiv calling the move "a purely political, economically unreasonable decision taken in favor of the Kremlin while to the detriment of Ukraine's national interests and Ukraine-Hungarian ties."

Asked about the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine prompted by Moscow deploying more than 100,000 troops near the border with its western neighbor, Orban told state radio that Hungary was "interested in peace."

He added that he will seek to strengthen cooperation with Russia in the food industry, tourism, and space research.

Amid a deteriorating economic situation prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and Europe-wide energy crunch, Hungary will hold elections on April 3 in what is expected to be a tough test for Orban and his right-wing Fidesz party, who have been in power since 2010.

With year-on-year inflation in Hungary hitting 7.4 percent in November, Orban has announced price caps on six basic foodstuffs -- sugar, flour, cooking oil, pork legs, chicken breasts, and milk -- from February 1.

Recent polls suggest a close race against opposition candidate Peter Marki-Zay, behind whom multiple opposition parties agreed to unite.

Orban last week dismissed the opposition's calls to cancel his visit to Moscow, scheduled for February 1.

With reporting by Reuters, Kossuth Radio, and
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