It’s angered Ukraine and bewildered Hungary’s traditional allies. Some say it was inevitable considering Viktor Orban’s warm relationship with Vladimir Putin.
The new 15 year contract that Hungary and Russia’s Gazprom recently struck brings 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas through Austria and Serbia bypassing Ukraine. But Budapest points out that Kiev makes $3 billion from the transit of gas from Russia despite the ongoing Russian-supported war in the Donbass and the annexation of Crimea – an arrangement that eludes the visceral animosity between the two.
It’s practically impossible to remove politics from gas supply issues, especially since much of Europe still dependent on Gazprom and places the company in a position of strength, especially with the completion of Nord Stream 2.
Irrespective of the energy needs of Hungary, it’s been reported for years that a special understanding/relationship between Orban and Putin does exist, unconcealed. Orban has been quoted: “In the past, we Hungarians have suffered a lot under Russia. … Nevertheless. It needs to be recognized that Putin has made his country great again (remind you of Mr. Trump? Ed.) and that Russia is once again a player on the world stage.”
Orban’s depiction of the steady erosion of freedoms in Russia is one of benign and successful change to an “illiberal” society, an evolution he welcomes. These changes need a firm return to traditional “Christian” values that are under attack by sinister forces from the West and foreign funded activists. This coincides perfectly with the recently expanded list of groups and organizations that are considered by the Kremlin to be “foreign agents”.
Laas Leivat, Toronto