Hungarian and Russian foreign ministers to meet

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today in Moscow. Hungary under

MTI KKM Borsos Matyas

Photo: MTI/KKM/Borsos Matyas

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today in Moscow.

Hungary under Prime Minister Victor Orban has allied with Russia in disputes against other European nations and used discounted Russian gas for domestic political ends. Yet recent events have drawn distinctions between Budapest’s foreign policy and Moscow’s. Notably, Hungary has expressed new interest in Azerbaijani oil and the country openly supported Baku during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict while Russia retains close relations with Azerbaijan’s opponent Armenia. Hungary’s relationship with Ukraine, too, has warmed, despite ongoing Russo-Ukrainian tension. Szijjarto announced in June that Hungary will support future NATO-Ukraine Commission meetings if disputes over ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine are resolved.

Expect Russian officials to use today’s meeting to oppose Hungarian acceptance of Ukraine’s integration into NATO as well as offer financial incentives for Hungary to resist major divestment from Russian gas. Despite such pressure, with Russia maximising its economic reserves during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hungary will likely continue expanding partnerships with neighbouring countries, granting Budapest independence from Russia whilst not overtly antagonising Moscow. As global policy orientations shift to accommodate the new Biden administration in the US, Hungary may find some distance from Russia useful.

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