Viktor Orban has warned that punitive measures against Moscow could backfire, causing food poverty and mass migration
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has challenged tough EU sanctions on Russia, likening the measures to a nuclear bomb that could backfire, triggering a food crisis and mass migration in Europe itself.
During a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the International Agricultural Fair in Novi Sad on Saturday, Orban made it clear that Budapest does not agree with the decisions made in Brussels regarding anti-Russian sanctions. The prime minister said the punitive measures were likely to harm Hungary, driving up prices and undermining the economy.
The Hungarian Prime Minister went on to describe the “introduction of sanctions against Russia” as “equal to an atomic bomb,“because they could potentially lead to a situation where Hungary does not”to be able to feed our people.“On top of that, he said recent developments could also lead to a new migrant crisis.
The Hungarian leader warned against a “hard winter“in front, because”we have galloping inflation, rising prices, famine is breaking out in many parts of the world and we have a war in Ukraine.”
Orban added that Hungary and Serbia have their fair share of problems – the former because it is an EU member state, the latter because it is outside the bloc.
He also highlighted the importance of the agricultural industry in preventing migration crises, predicting that farmers will be the “hero” of 2022.
The Serbian President shared Orban’s view on the coming winter and the importance of national products and food reserves, saying that “farmers will save lives in Serbia and elsewhere in difficult times.”
Vucic also thanked Hungary for letting Serbia store its energy reserves in the country.
The two leaders vowed to lend a hand, with President Vucic saying that “if Hungary lacks something, Serbia will be there, if we lack something, the first call will be Budapest.”
While condemning the Russian military offensive against Ukraine, Hungary, unlike many other European states, has refrained from supplying arms to Kyiv or letting shipments from third countries pass through its territory. Prime Minister Orban insists he does not want to see Hungary drawn into the conflict.
At the same time, the central European nation has opened its doors to thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the fighting.
Regarding anti-Russian sanctions, Hungarian leaders have repeatedly warned the EU that an embargo on Russian oil and gas would be a red line for Budapest, as Hungary is heavily dependent on Russian energy imports.
Orban blocked the EU’s sixth sanctions package against the Kremlin earlier this month because it would have forced member states to stop buying Russian oil. Budapest insists it simply cannot do this overnight without dealing a major blow to its own economy. On top of that, a transition to alternative energy sources would be costly, with Orban urging Brussels to cover Hungary’s projected expenses, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
So far, both sides are struggling to find a workable compromise.