Hungary’s envoy seeks to secure gas in Moscow as Europe pivots

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(Bloomberg) – Hungary is seeking more Russian gas in a break with other European Union members trying to get the bloc away from fuel supplies that help fund the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.

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(Bloomberg) – Hungary is seeking more Russian gas in a break with other European Union members trying to get the bloc away from fuel supplies that help fund the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.

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The government will create an additional gas reserve of 800 million cubic meters, the vast majority of which will be delivered by Russia, according to a decree published on Friday. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto traveled to Moscow on Thursday to request an additional 700 million cubic meters of fuel on top of an amount previously agreed in a long-term contract.

The pledge follows Hungary’s stated reluctance to EU efforts to sanction Russian energy supplies and warnings that penalizing Moscow is exacerbating the EU’s energy crisis.

“I came here to ask for gas deliveries in addition to the amount already agreed, and to tell you how important it is for peace and war to end,” Szijjarto told his counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a Thursday press conference.

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Lavrov, who is sanctioned by the EU and the United States for his role in advancing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, said Russia would “consider” the request.

Hungary’s push to get Russian gas coincides with an EU proposal asking members to cut their gas consumption by 15% over the next eight months as part of a plan that would affect all households, electricity producers and industry.

The proposal reflects growing concern that Russia will end gas exports to the region in retaliation for sanctions. A cut would threaten EU efforts to replenish stocks ahead of winter, potentially jeopardizing security of supply to key sectors and crippling the region’s economy until next year. But Hungary, Italy, Poland and other countries have expressed reservations about the plan.

The decree issued on Friday also instructed a branch of the government to take out a bank loan of 1.85 billion euros ($1.88 billion) to finance the purchases.

Hungary, which has repeatedly come up against EU efforts, has entered into long-term contracts with Gazprom PJSC to receive 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas, mostly via the southern gas pipeline via Turkey.

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