Relations between Moscow and Budapest came under pressure this week when the Russian government suspended an agreement that allowed visa-free entry to Hungarian diplomats.
The decree issued on the official Internet portal of legal information on Thursday, Russia accused Hungary of committing certain violations of provisions of the bilateral agreement.
The agreement, signed in 2001, is being suspended “with regard to Hungarian citizens holding diplomatic passports until Hungary rectifies the violations of its commitments under this agreement or until it is terminated,” according to the decree.
The details of the decision were not disclosed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry was instructed to inform its Hungarian counterparts regarding the decision.
The visa waiver system between Russia and Hungary allowed Hungarian diplomatic passport's holder a visa-free stay up to 90 days in Russia. Meanwhile, citizens of the two countries were allowed to enter, exit, transit and stay in the territory of either country.
In January, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said some European Union (EU) nations had put up impossible entry visas requirements for Russian nationals.
“They particularly request to provide payments for visa issuance fees via Western banks or demand to submit an insurance certificate issued by a foreign company, which is extremely problematic under the unprecedented Western sanctions” TASS quoted Ivanov as saying.
“The number of issued multiple-entry visas for Russian citizens has been brought almost to nothing,” he added.
Hungary-Russia ties were impacted after Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February 2022.
Hungary emerged as the friendliest EU nation towards Russia. However, Budapest’s stance on the war in Ukraine has been somewhat complicated and rests on a carefully balanced approach under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Hungary was quick to denounce the invasion and did not object to some EU sanctions against Moscow. The Hungarian government also allowed Ukrainian refugees escaping the conflict to cross its eastern border. Furthermore, Budapest allowed the deployment of NATO troops to the alliance’s eastern flank via the Hungarian territory.
Nevertheless, Orban's administration opposed EU sanctions on Russian gas and oil. Landlocked Hungary depends on Russian energy supplies, receiving approximately 80 percent of its gas and more than 50 percent of its oil from Russia. Russian crude is supplied to Hungary via Druzhba, the world’s longest oil pipeline running from Russia to various points in eastern and central Europe. The two countries also maintain important relations in the banking and tourism sectors.
Hungary has secured 4.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas supplies per year from Russia under a 15-year agreement signed with Russia in 2021. There is an agreement between Budapest and Moscow for modifying purchased quantities after 10 years.