Breaking with the EU, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Wednesday that Hungary would pay for Russian gas in rubles if that’s what Moscow asks.
“We don’t have any difficulty paying in rubles. If the Russians ask us to, we pay in rubles,” Orban told reporters, according to Hungary’s spokesman.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered for European gas payments to be paid in rubles in response to Western sanctions. Under his plan, the buyers have to open a special account with Russia’s Gazprombank, so they can transfer foreign currency to the bank. Gazprombank would then purchase rubles on behalf of the buyer, which will be used for the gas deal.
EU leaders have rejected Putin’s demand for ruble payments, but Russia hasn’t yet cut Europe from its gas supply. Last week, the Kremlin said gas buyers still have time to work out payments in rubles.
Orban’s stance on the ruble payments is not the first time he’s broken from Europe on its approach to Russia and the war in Ukraine. Unlike other NATO countries that border Ukraine, Hungary is not allowing its territory to be used to transport weapons into Ukraine.
Orban won re-election in a landslide victory on Sunday and has since come under pressure from the EU. In response to the election and allegations of corruption, the EU has launched a process that could strip Hungary of EU funding.