Hungary’s foreign minister announced that Rosatom, Russia’s state-backed nuclear energy company, will begin construction work on two new nuclear reactors in the coming weeks, Hungary, an EU member, struck a deal with Russia in 2014 in a bid to expand its existing Paks nuclear plant. Despite Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, the EU has not sanctioned Russia’s nuclear industry.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has maintained a strong relationship with Putin and has said that Hungary will stay out of the war happening in its neighbouring country Ukraine.
The country has expressed a lot of resistance to the EU’s plans to sanction Russian oil and gas exports.
Last year, Hungary signed a 15-year agreement with Russia to buy 4.5 billion cubic metres a year.
Earlier this week, Orban was awarded for his close ties to Putin, as Hungary announced that it will receive additional gas supplies from Russia after a trade agreement was negotiated last month.
A Hungarian ministry official has said that the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom has started to deliver more gas to Hungary than it was contractually obligated to.
By the end of August, Russia will be supplying Hungary with an additional 2.6 million cubic metres a day.
Under the nuclear deal, Russia will build two new nuclear reactors at the Pax site, which generates 40 percent of Hungary’s electricity.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto wrote in a Facebook post: “Let the construction begin!”
Once completed, the nuclear power station, which currently has four Soviet-built reactors, will see its capacity more than double thanks to the two new reactors.
Mr Szijjarto was quoted by AFP saying: “This is a big step, an important milestone.
“In this manner, we will ensure Hungary’s energy security in the long term and protect Hungarians from wild swings in energy prices.”
He added that the additional two nuclear reactors are expected to be ready for service by 2030.
The controversial £10.6billion project is largely financed by Russia.
As the US, UK and the EU look to end their reliance on Russia and its energy exports, Hungary’s deepening relations with Moscow have sparked fury online.
Freeyourmind888, a pro-Ukrainian page tweeted: “Why is Hungary even in the EU?
“Hungary has become a vassal state of Russia!!”
Earlier this month, Hungarian official Tamas Menczer said that Russia has begun to deliver gas supplies to Hungary “above the already contracted quantities.”
Mr Menczer, who is a member of Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, posted on Facebook that it was his government’s duty “to ensure the country’s safe supply of natural gas, and we are living up to it.”
In July, Mr Szijjártó travelled to Moscow to negotiate the purchase of an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas.
Mr Mencer wrote about the trade deal: “In light of what is known about the current European market conditions, it is clear that the acquisition of such a large amount is impossible without Russian sources.”