Hungary and Poland Relations: Poles Apart

"If we differ on the most existential of issues, it will be hard to cooperate on other fronts," summarises Andrzej Sadecki, head of the Central Europe team and a Hungary specialist at OSW, the Warsaw-based Center for Eastern Studies.

The "most existential of issues" is clearly the war in Ukraine. While Warsaw has gone all out in supporting Kyiv, including delivering weapons and lobbying other countries to do so, Budapest's position has been - at best - ambivalent.

Although Hungary has voted for all ten EU sanction packages (some significantly watered down), the country's prime minister and Putin's last remaining ally in the EU, Viktor Orban, vocally criticises these measures for "doing more harm to the EU than to Russia".

Hungary still maintains energy cooperation with Russia's Gazprom and Rosatom - it has signed an expanded gas supply agreement and officially still insists that Russia will build the Paks 2 nuclear power plant - arguing that it is an "economic necessity".

At the same time, the Hungarian government remains unwilling to participate in deliveries of weapons to Ukraine or the training of its soldiers, and has a fractious relationship with Kyiv's leadership. Government trolls openly disseminate Russian propaganda and hold Ukraine at least as responsible as Russia for the war.

The blocking of Russian Orthodox bishop Patriarch Kirill of Moscow (and war supporter) from being added to the EU sanctions list and Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto's high-profile visits to Moscow and Minsk were seen - even by many Hungarian diplomatic experts - as unnecessary and provocative steps.

Banners showing Hungarian PM Viktor Orban (L), Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and slogan 'Fossils Fuel War' during a Greenpeace protest...

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