Viktor Orban ally slams EU oil embargo on Russia
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Western countries that are providing weapons and money to assist Ukraine in its war with Russia have already “drifted” into becoming active participants in the conflict, Hungary’s prime minister has warned. In an interview with Hungarian state radio, Viktor Orban threatened to veto any EU sanctions that would affect its access to Russian energy.
Orban, who has refused to send weapons to neighbouring Ukraine and has held up some European Union efforts to provide aid packages to Kyiv, has consistently argued against EU sanctions on Moscow and portrayed countries that assist Ukraine as being “on the side of war.”
His right-wing populist government has pursued increasingly close economic and diplomatic ties with Russia over the last decade and concluded major agreements on purchasing Russian gas, oil, and nuclear fuel.
He also said that Germany’s Wednesday decision to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine was emblematic of the increasing role Western countries are playing in the war, now in its 12th month.
Mr Orban said Hungary getting drawn into the war in Ukraine “is out of the question as long as I am prime minister” but he thinks it is too late for other countries in Europe.
He said: “The others are not only in danger, they have already been swept away.
“If you send weapons, if you finance the entire annual budget of one of the belligerents, if you promise more and more weapons, more and more modern weapons, then you can say whatever you want. No matter what you say, you are in the war.”
It comes as Russia fired more missiles and self-exploding drones at nearly a dozen Ukrainian provinces early Thursday, causing the first war-related death in Kyiv this year and killing at least 11 people overall, according to Ukrainian authorities.
The attacks adhered to Russia’s recent pattern of striking power plants and other critical infrastructure about every two weeks. However, the latest onslaught came after Germany and the United States upped the ante in Russia’s 11-month war by promising Wednesday to send high-tech battle tanks to Ukraine and green-lighting other allies to do the same.
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The spokesperson for Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, said that in addition to the dead, at least 11 people were wounded.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed during the attacks, the city’s first such death since New Year’s Eve. Two others were injured, he said. The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defences shot down 15 cruise missiles heading to the area.
The regional prosecutor’s office in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province said three people were killed and seven injured in a strike on an energy facility. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Thursday’s volley involved a total of 55 missiles, of which 47 were intercepted.
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Self-exploding drones swept in overnight before the missile strikes. As air raid sirens echoed across the country, civilians, some tugging pet dogs on leashes, poured into subway stations, underground parking lots, and basements to seek shelter.
It was the first such barrage of Russian firepower across the country since Jan. 14.
Russia has carried out massive strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since early October, part of a strategy to try to hamper Ukrainian forces and to keep civilians in the cold and dark this winter before what many experts predict could be a springtime offensive as more conscripts reach the battlefields.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko acknowledged that some sites were hit, resulting in emergency power outages.
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