Russia has published a list of unfriendly countries, including quite many new additions. Officially, all EU countries appear on the list now.
On Monday, the Russian Government updated its list of unfriendly countries, the Russian state news agency reported according to hvg.hu. The list includes, among other states, the entire European Union. Even though the news agency did not specifically mention Hungary but we can conclude that now it has also become an unfriendly country in the eyes of the Russians. Russian Government Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced that all states supporting sanctions against Russia will be added to the list.
The economic sanctions imposed on Russia are extremely diverse, including the termination and suspension of western companies in Russia, a ban on Russian flights flying to Europe, the confiscation of Russian entrepreneurs’ western assets, and the suspension of various Russian-European joint projects. However, sanctions can also be painful for Europe, as Russia’s natural gas, oil and coal are very important for the European economy. If the conflict escalates, it will hurt both sides in unprecedented ways.
After Viktor Orbán came to power in 2010, he announced a policy of opening up to the east. He wanted to look for new eastern partners and allies in addition to the existing Western European Union political and NATO military alliance system. As a result, he was practically the only EU state to announce an extremely friendly policy towards Russia, Turkey and China. Various bilateral relations have been established and many major projects have been completed, for instance, a nuclear power plant with a Russian background and a railway with a Chinese background, both of them built in Hungary. The Russian president would come to Budapest almost every year to attend meetings. He was greeted with friendly hospitality.
Orbán is said to be the Trojan horse of Putin in the EU, but it is disputable. There was an alliance between the two of them due to common interests. Orbán occasionally, even involuntarily, conveyed Putin’s narrative in the EU, so that opinions from Russia could also be heard in Western Europe. The close relationship also positively served Russian companies and entrepreneurs by allowing them to expand their businesses to Europe via Hungary. Orbán saw a tough, patriotic politician in Putin who fiercely stood up for his homeland while withstanding the liberal new wave of the western world. Therefore, he seemed like the perfect ally for Orbán. It was a straight path leading to friendship.
With the start of the war, things seemed to take a different turn. After nearly 12 years of friendship, Orbán openly turned against Russia for the very first time. However, the Hungarian Government seems to be careful not to appear overtly hostile: European arms were not allowed to be transported to Ukraine via Hungary, for instance. The question, however, is where this relationship will develop in the coming years? Of course, it also depends on how the election unfolds on 3rd April. The government will likely continue its two-way politicisation towards the west and the east, although it will probably be more cautious towards Russia than earlier. However, the current opposition, led by Péter Márki-Zay, would clearly pursue a pro-western policy against Russia.