The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on a bank based in Hungary over its ties to Russia, a move that further strains ties between Washington and Budapest.
According to Reuters, the sanctions targeted three top officials in the International Investment Bank in Budapest, two Russian nationals, and one Hungarian national. US Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman said the US had previously warned Hungary about the bank.
“Unlike other NATO allies previously engaged with this Russian entity, Hungary has dismissed the concerns of the United States government regarding the risks its continued presence poses to the alliance,” Pressman told reporters in Budapest.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has attempted to maintain good relations with Moscow and has been calling for peace talks to end the war in Ukraine and has previously delayed EU sanctions on Russia, angering officials in Brussels and Washington. Hungary also secured an exemption from the Russian oil ban since it’s a land-locked country and is reliant on pipeline infrastructure.
“We have concerns, about the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties with the Russian Federation,” Pressman said. Orban’s government has also come under more general criticism from the US and EU since he won reelection last spring.
The sanctions came after a top-secret CIA document that surfaced on the internet as part of a trove of leaks revealed that the US was likely spying on Orban. The document said in a February meeting with his aides, Orban named the US as one of his Fidesz Party’s top three adversaries.