Germany, Hungary spar as tensions mount over blocked Ukraine aid

Germany and Hungary sparred Monday during a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels over the role of a controversial Hungarian bank in Russia̵7;s war in Ukraine, according to four diplomats familiar with the exchange.

In recent days the bank, OTP, like Hungary, has become a focal point for the authorities Refuse To approve more EU military aid to Ukraine unless Kiev removes the company from its list of “war sponsors”. Diplomats also say that the dispute delay New Russia sanctions.

When Hungarian Foreign Minister Petar Szijjarto reiterated Budapest’s stance during a closed-door meeting on Monday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Bierbock hit back, according to diplomats who spoke anonymously to describe the exchange.

He said he cited unspecified reports that the OTP recognizes the Russian-occupied regions of Luhansk and Donetsk — a violation of international law — and has extended credit lines to Russian troops.

Hungary rejected the allegations, echoing the bank itself, which called the report “not true”. statement And argued that the bank’s management “publicly expresses its support for Ukraine.”

Nevertheless, in an exchange described by a diplomat as “civilized and in a normal framework of discussion”, other countries such as Sweden and Estonia also put pressure on Hungary during the meeting. He argued that the EU should not hold back on further sanctions – designed to crack down on fraud – and more military aid to Ukraine.

The dispute reflects growing frustration among other EU countries towards Hungary, which has taken several wartime measures to punish Russia and consolidate Ukraine. While Budapest has generally relented after receiving concessions, the many delays have left many people frustrated.

Some diplomats and ministers expressed their sentiments publicly on Monday, as well as trying to separate their friction with Kiev over Hungary’s list of “war sponsors” from the EU’s effort to approve more military aid and sanctions. urged.

Before the meeting, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters, “We cannot delay sanctions.” “There are some countries that add unrelated issues, such as naming and shaming campaigns, to the sanctions package.”

A diplomat expressed confusion as to why Hungary is stuck on the Ukrainian list, as it has no legal effect.

After the meeting, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, vowed to work through the differences. EU officials have said they expect Borrell to reach Kiev to discuss the matter.

“We have to do everything we can [get] The next package of military support to Ukraine has been approved. “If a member state has a difficulty, let’s discuss it, that’s what we’re going to do.”

EU defense ministers will discuss the bloc’s military support for Ukraine at a meeting on Tuesday.