AP International

Hungary blocks military aid to Ukraine over listing of Hungarian bank

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary will continue to block the disbursement of a new tranche of European Union military support to Ukraine until Kyiv removes a Hungarian bank from a list of international sponsors of Russia’s war, Hungary’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Peter Szijjarto, speaking in Vienna after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, called Ukraine’s recent listing of OTP Bank “scandalous and unacceptable,” and said that Hungary wouldn’t approve the release of 500 million euros ($543 million) from the EU’s European Peace Facility until the bank is removed from the list.

“We cannot support the allocation of another half a billion euros from the European Peace Facility for arms transfers to Ukraine, and we will not give it the green light as long as OTP is on this particular list,” Szijjarto said.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention classified OTP Bank as an international sponsor of the war over its continued presence in Russia, sparking a backlash from Hungarian officials.

After the listing of OTP, the banking group’s Ukrainian branch released a statement arguing that it had “drastically reduced its presence in the Russian market,” and that its market share there had decreased to only 0.17%.

Relations between Hungary and neighboring Ukraine have been strained by Budapest’s refusal to supply Kyiv with weapons or to allow their transfer across the countries’ shared border.

Hungary’s nationalist government, which maintains close ties with Moscow, has also argued against EU sanctions on Russia, and sought to cement Hungary’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

On Wednesday, Szijjarto suggested that Hungary would move to block further EU sanctions on Russia unless Ukraine delists OTP Bank, saying Kyiv had become “increasingly belligerent” with respect to Hungary.

Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

“As long as Ukraine keeps OTP on the list of international sponsors of the war, Hungary cannot agree to decisions that would require the European Union and its member states to make further economic and financial sacrifices,” he said.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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