EU unity shattered: Hungary to scupper Western bid to hamstring Putin with new veto threat

Ukraine: Russia laying mines around Kyiv in desperation

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been urging EU and NATO leaders to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine as well as issuing tougher sanctions on Russia’s energy supplies to the bloc.

But Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that his country would reject such proposals if they were made at this week’s EU Council Summit.

He said: “We have entered a new dimension of risk of war in Ukraine, which is why we need to take tougher and clearer steps to ensure peace and security in Hungary, which is in our national interest.

“An agreement regarding possible EU sanctions against Russian energy supplies or their interruption will most likely not be reached.

“We will not support sanctions that could pose a risk to energy supplies for Hungary.

“Some countries depend on Russian energy supplies.

“We don’t do this out of fun.

“Energy supply is not a philosophical or ideological issue, but a physical, mathematical one.”

Asked whether he would back a no-fly zone or a peacekeeper mission to Ukraine, he said: “We must avoid that.

“Hungary’s interest is clear: Hungary wants to stay out of this war, we will stick to NATO’s common position and reject proposals that risk either an air war or an extended war on the ground.

“The Hungarian government is contributing to doubling the budget of the European Peace Facility, and arms supplies from EU member states are not blocked, but Hungary does not supply weapons to Ukraine, and lethal weapons must not cross the country.”

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EU foreign ministers on Monday disagreed on whether and how to include energy in sanctions, with Germany saying the bloc was too dependent on Russian oil to impose an embargo.

US President Joe Biden is due to travel to Europe this week for meetings with allied leaders to discuss tighter sanctions on Russia, on top of the unprecedented financial penalties already announced.

Ahead of the trip, he discussed Russia’s “brutal” tactics in a call with European leaders on Monday, the White House said.

Russia’s siege and bombardment of Mariupol, which European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “a massive war crime”, is increasing pressure for action.

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President Biden also singled out India for being “somewhat shaky” in acting against Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware, but praised the other members of the Quad group, Australia and Japan.

India has urged an end to the violence in Ukraine but has abstained from voting against its old Cold War ally Russia.

China, which has also declined to condemn Russia’s assault, and its ally, Pakistan, shared concern about the “spillover effects of unilateral sanctions” on Russia, the Chinese foreign ministry said after a meeting of the neighbours’ foreign ministers.

They called for a ceasefire and a diplomatic resolution of the crisis.

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