Vladimir Putin - Photo: President of Russia website press service

Government spokesman: Sanctions against Russia ‘without effect, harmful for us’

The sanctions against Russia have no effect on the war in Ukraine but harm the countries which have imposed them, as shown in growing energy prices, the state secretary for international communication and relations told Austrian daily Kurier, in an interview published on Thursday.

“This war should not have started in the first place, and should be ended as soon as possible. The way there is through a ceasefire and peace talks,” Zoltan Kovacs told the paper.

Currently, “we win nothing, we are just losing.” Sanctions are harming the economy, and energy security must be a priority, he said.

Put to him that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had visited Moscow regularly seeking agreements on cheaper oil and gas, and that Hungary depends on Russia for the upgrade of its nuclear plant, Kovacs said “the close political ties you attribute to the prime minister and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin do not exist. The relations are not closer than those between Russia and Germany.”

Dependency on Russian oil, gas and nuclear technology has historic rather than political roots, he said. Russia is the “cheapest and most attractive energy source on the market,” Kovacs said.

The war will end but Russia will remain a potential energy source, “with or without Putin, his ideological dreams notwithstanding,” he said. “Deciding to fully wean our energy policy from Russia now is not necessarily a good idea,” he said.

Regarding the European Union’s criticism over the state of the rule of law in Hungary, Kovacs said Hungary had complied with all of the EU’s conditions, which was not reciprocated. “This is a witch hunt,” he said.

Referring to EU funding for the next financial cycle and post pandemic recovery, Kovacs said “that money is ours, not a present, not subsidies, it’s ours. It is being distributed for economic reasons. Withholding it is a subjective political decision.”

You can read the entire interview in German here.

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