The conclusion of a long-term gas contract between Hungary and the Russian concern Gazprom on the supply of Russian gas bypassing Ukraine has given rise to diplomatic tensions between Kyiv and Budapest.
The Government of Hungary streamed live the signing ceremony. Under the contract terms, Gazprom will supply 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year. For 15 years, these volumes of gas will come via two routes – through Austria and Serbia.
After the contract was signed, statements were made by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Péter Szijjártó and Deputy Chair of the Board of Gazprom, Director General of Gazprom Export Elena Burmistrova.
According to Szijjártó, the agreement is “not political” but is a matter of “security, sovereignty, and economy.” He called Kyiv’s criticism “an attempt to interfere in Hungary’s affairs”.
Commenting on the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said that Hungary had dealt a blow to bilateral relations.
“We have a country, Hungary, the EU member and the NATO member, which at the same time has special relations with Russia and has dealt a blow to Ukraine–Hungary relations by excluding the Ukrainian gas pipeline from the scheme of gas supply from Russia. This is a blow, and we will respond to it accordingly as there should be no pity and no sympathy in this matter,” Kuleba said.
In response to these statements, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary stated that he was summoning the ambassador of Ukraine. Szijjártó called the position of official Kyiv on the gas issue unfriendly and described it as an attempt to violate Hungary’s sovereignty and national security.
“This step is unfriendly after the many subsidies (lung ventilators, medical equipment, care for soldiers, children’s recreation, investment financing) that Ukraine has received from us… Now, we have addressed the ambassador of Ukraine at the Foreign Ministry,” the minister wrote on his Facebook page.
At the same time, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleh Nikolenko said that Kyiv was similarly summoning the Hungarian ambassador “to convey a principled position” on the issue of gas transportation bypassing Ukraine.
“Transportation of gas bypassing Ukraine undermines our country’s national security and Europe’s energy security, and Hungary’s new agreement with Gazprom deals a serious blow to Ukraine–Hungary relations,” the diplomat said.
It is stressed that the Ukrainian side would take decisive measures to protect national interests.