Russia is still using Hungary to put pressure on the European Union.
Analyzing recent news from Eastern Europe, we can once again identify Russia’s efforts to enhance its impact on the public opinion of European Union people through propaganda.
In contrast to the Russian authorities’ stated perspective on the international community’s sanctions and their outcomes, the reality is quite different, and not for the better for the aggressor.
Thus, preliminary estimates from Bloomberg show that Russia’s GDP has already plummeted by $30 billion USD. Russia has lost another $5 billion in military equipment, which it shipped to Ukraine for destruction.
The preliminary forecast of Bloomberg Economics predicts a drop in Russia’s GDP for the whole of 2022 by about 9%.
Russia “asks for support” from old, but few, allies because of the unavoidable implications for the economy and society. As a result, Russia is attempting to engage official Hungarian government agents once more.
Hungarian Foreign Minister P. Szijjarto made a series of remarks that are genuinely pro-Kremlin and directly push Russian interests in the energy industry at the event “Russian Energy Week,” which took place in mid-October in Moscow.
The Hungarian Minister purposefully emphasizes Hungary’s perceived reliance on Russian hydrocarbon supplies. The Hungarian government rejects the EU penalties, claiming the need to defend the national economy.
P. Szijjarto manipulates the repercussions of sanctions in his speech, stating that the outcomes of actions against Russia will largely hurt EU members, and Hungary in particular.
The Minister did not disregard the issue of nuclear energy, namely the operation and availability of required resources for Hungary’s only nuclear power station, “Paks,” which is located 100 kilometers from Budapest. The power plant was developed in the 1980s in accordance with a Soviet project and, of course, with the participation of Soviet specialists and technology.
Active collaboration with the Russians resulted in the signing of an agreement in 2014 for the building of further 5th and 6th power units. The last stage of the two governments’ collaboration was the issuing of a permit for the building of the Paks II project, which was signed during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, in August 2022.
According to P. Szijjarto, the operation and the survival of the Hungarian nuclear project is completely dependant on Russia’s supply of nuclear fuel, components, and technology.
It should be noted that Russia’s sale of gas to Hungary at significantly discounted pricing enables the country to maintain the lowest tariffs for its citizens. This is how the government will sway public perception during the next election campaign.
However, the perceived energy threat is not the only way to influence European citizens’ opinions. The historical closeness of certain Transcarpathian Ukrainians and Hungarians is a favored card of the Hungarian government.
The Minister also spoke sharply about the dismantling of Hungarian symbols (sculpture of the mythical bird Turul), which took place on October 13 in the territory of the Mukachevo castle “Palanok”, a popular tourist attraction.
It should be mentioned that the artwork was placed in 2008 and is not a historical landmark. Despite this, P. Szijjarto summoned Ukraine’s Charge d’Affaires, calling the occurrence “an unjustified anti-Hungarian provocation.” Furthermore, the official requested that the head of the Transcarpathian Regional Military Administration, V.Mykyta, endorse Budapest’s stance.
Members of the Hungarian Parliament did not overlook the sculpture’s removal either. Turul’s deconstruction is “an unlawful activity carried out against the desire of the local population,” according to A. Bochkor, MEP from the ruling party Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union.
The Hungarian opposition did not take a back seat. M. Gyöngyösi, the head of the opposition right-wing extremist group “Jobbik,” is certain that the incident in Transcarpathia will be used by officials in Budapest to bolster pro-Russian sentiments.
M. Gyöngyösi, on the other hand, denounced the conduct of the local Ukrainian authorities.
The launch on October 14 of a nationwide poll initiated by Fidesz-UGS to determine the attitude of the Hungarian population toward EU sanctions against Russia that have already been imposed and are expected to be imposed in the future is closely related to the Hungarian authorities’ criticism of Ukraine.
The main goals of this survey are to create the necessary moods among the population, to prepare a platform for further negotiations of the President of Hungary V. Obrana with his Western partners and to implement the pro-Kremlin course of the official Budapest within the European Union.
The anti-Putin alliance nations should step up their efforts in the international energy market to avoid speculation in EU member states close to Russia.
Obviously, democratic values and principles should be applied in solving important cultural and political issues, especially those that will have a great international public resonance.