Raised hackles in Kiev as Hungary finalizes gas deal with Russia

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A new gas contract between Russia and Hungary has raised hackles in Ukraine, with Budapest and Kiev summoning each other’s ambassador.

“Hungary’s new agreement with Gazprom is a serious blow to Ukrainian-Hungarian relations,” said Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko on Tuesday.

Kiev will take “decisive measures” in defence of its national interest, he was cited as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“We forbid Ukraine from attempting to torpedo Hungary’s gas security,” Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Budapest, adding that Hungary regarded this as a violation of its sovereignty.

Relations between the neighbouring countries are already strained because of a dispute related to the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

According to Russia, Ukraine does not have the right to interfere in the completion of the treaty.

“No rights, no international trade rules have been violated here,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, adding that Moscow is ready to talk to Kiev about direct gas supplies.

Ukraine has not bought gas from its Russian neighbour since 2015.

A 15-year supply contract between Russian gas company Gazprom and the Hungarian energy company MVM Group was previously signed in Budapest.

Hungary receives 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas, which bypass Ukraine. The lion’s share is to reach Hungary via a southern route through the Black Sea, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia.

Kiev has long felt that its role as the main transit country for natural gas from Russia to the European Union has been threatened by the construction of new pipelines far away from the Ukraine.

The ex-Soviet republic is above all against the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea, which has not yet been put into operation.

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