Kiev fuming as Russia begins pumping natural gas to Hungary bypassing Ukraine
Russia’s state energy supplier, Gazprom, has begun supplying gas to Hungary through the Balkan Stream pipeline and pipelines in southeastern Europe under a long-term contract signed earlier this week.
As Gazprom reported earlier, two 15-year contracts were signed for the supply of Russian gas to Hungary to a total volume of up to 4.5 billion cubic meters per year and a clause to change supply quantities after 10 years.
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Previous Russian gas deliveries to Hungary were supplied using Ukraine’s pipeline network. As they now bypass Ukraine, Kiev denounced the deal. It is to request that the European Commission assess the compliance of the agreement against European energy legislation.
The head of Ukraine’s gas transportation system’s operator GTS Ukraine, Sergei Makogon, said Kiev fears a significant reduction in or complete halt to gas transit to Hungary through Ukraine, as it would jeopardize Kiev’s profits. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, went further, claiming the deal undermined his country’s national security and the energy security of Europe.
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Budapest responded by accusing Ukraine of unrightfully meddling in Hungary’s internal political decisions, with Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó calling Kiev’s reaction to the agreement “extremely outrageous.”
“Ukraine has nothing to do with those we make deals with,” he stated, adding that Budapest views such steps by Kiev as “a violation of [Hungary’s] sovereignty and national security interests.” The minister also noted that, under the new deal, Hungary would be buying gas “at a much better price than under the expiring contract,” which was signed in 2020.
Russia sees no violations in its new deal with Hungary. The press secretary for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, stressed that Kiev had no right to interfere in bilateral relations between Moscow and Budapest.
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“This is a long-term contract, which, in fact, will guarantee reliable, predictable, regular supplies of blue fuel to Hungary along guaranteed, economically profitable routes. Nobody’s rights [or] international trade norms are being violated here. It is doubtful that any country, including Ukraine, has the right to interfere in this aspect of Russian-Hungarian relations,” Peskov said.
Russia is not going to use gas to put pressure on other countries – in particular, Ukraine – Peskov emphasized, noting once again that Moscow was ready to continue gas transit through Ukraine after the current contract expired in 2024 if there were “appropriate economically beneficial and economically viable conditions.”
“There is absolutely no room for criticism and, of course, there should be no place for such hysterical reactions,” Peskov concluded.
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