Hungary’s Orban welcomes Vladimir Putin for annual talks, with focus on energy

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will host Russia’s Vladimir Putin today for annual bilateral talks. Discussions will focus on increasing Hungarian

putin orban

Photo: Kremlin

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will host Russia’s Vladimir Putin today for annual bilateral talks.

Discussions will focus on increasing Hungarian access to Russian gas. These negotiations began in March, when Hungary reached a deal with Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom to provide 2 billion cubic metres of gas from April 2020.

For the most part, Hungary’s gas supplies from Russia arrive via a pipeline that passes through Ukraine. However, given the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine, Budapest is now preparing for a worst-case scenario, in which Russian gas must arrive via Austria instead.

At today’s talks, PM Orban will likely look to increase Gazprom’s 2020 gas supply to Hungary to 3 billion cubic meters. This would help Hungary meet its longer-term energy needs, as domestic storage facilities can accommodate up to 6.5 billion cubic metres of gas.

An enhanced gas supply deal could be mutually beneficial, as it would guarantee increased Russian gas income and strengthen bilateral ties. Today’s meeting gives the EU further reason to worry about Hungary’s growing relationship with Russia, especially after PM Orban, a Eurosceptic, allowed Russia’s International Investment Bank—which EU officials view as a medium through which Moscow can subvert European institutions—to relocate to Budapest.

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