Hungarian prime minister: European sanctions on Russia a ‘step towards war’

On Friday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called EU sanctions against Russia a “step towards war” and redoubled his criticism of Brussels’ strategy, considering it “dangerous”.

“Anyone who intervenes economically in a military conflict takes place,” the nationalist leader said during his traditional interview on a radio close to the government.

“Little by little, we are sliding towards war,” he said, expressing his concern about the backlog of measures taken to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Orban also opposes the European Commission’s proposal to grant Ukraine aid of 18 billion euros for the year 2023, in the form of loans whose interest is paid by the member states.

“Hungary will not accept that EU members jointly take out loans to help Ukraine,” the MTI news agency said.

Instead, he called for a payment to be divided “evenly” among the 27 countries. He added that Hungary could offer up to 70 billion forints (170 million euros) in under a bilateral agreement with Kiev.

Orban regularly condemns the European strategy, while voting in favor of all European sanctions by his partners, while maintaining good relations with the Kremlin.

He believes that the sanctions are the main reason for the economic setbacks suffered by his country, located in central Europe. Hungary’s economy contracted in the third quarter (compared to the second quarter), while inflation exceeded 20% and even reached 45% for food.

The government has launched a “national consultation” on European sanctions against Moscow, and posters with the image of a missile and the message “Brussels’ sanctions are destroying us” were circulated in the capital and the rest of the country.

The prime minister said he was ready to “fight” a possible new package of sanctions, and to work towards “exempting” Hungary, which depends in largely from Russian fuel imports.

“We are now supplying destructive weapons, training Ukrainian soldiers on our soil and imposing energy sanctions… We have become an integral part of the conflict,” Orban said on the radio.

He concluded by saying, “We haven’t been shot at yet, but we are about to become a belligerent country. Europe is playing a very dangerous game.”

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