Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have recently discussed the acquisition by Hungary of 30 Mi-8/17 Russian-made multipurpose helicopters, notwithstanding a European Union ban on military cooperation with Moscow after an incursion into Ukrainian territory, a source close to the talks said.
“Why, actually, it is Hungary that has constantly voiced the need to ease sanctions against Russia. The Hungarian Defense Ministry wants to buy around 30 Mi-8/17 multipurpose helicopters from Russia. The deal is estimated at more than $400 million. Orban’s visit to Moscow on February 17 was devoted, inter alia, to the discussion of this contract,” the source said.
Orban is said to seek compensation to Putin for the difficulties incurred with completion of a nuclear power plant in Hungary, where Russia was the main contractor.
“Orban has already received part of the Russian funds intended for the project, and personally guaranteed Putin that it [project] would be implemented without any problems. However, the EU blocked the implementation saying it was contradicting the EU legislation,” the source said.
According to the source, Putin expressed his irritation to the Hungarian delegation over the fact that a billion-worth “nuclear” contract had been disrupted and admitted that problems could arise in future. In particular, the Kremlin is ready to sponsor not only Orban’s ruling party, but also the opposition, the source said.
“The acquisition of the helicopters could be good compensation as the deal reveals considerable political implications,” the source said.
The purchase of the Russian helicopters by Hungary would be a success for the Kremlin, demonstrating the inefficiency of the sanctions regime, according to the report.
The source noted that the Russian propaganda had already pointed to the “weakening of European solidarity” and “strengthening of ties between the allies, Russia and Hungary.”
It is noted that the Hungarian leader is even ready to give up cooperation with foreign manufacturers – Augusta Westland and Sikorsky – for the sake of the Russian contract.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Orban told Putin on Wednesday that European Union countries were increasingly keen to cooperate with Moscow and would not “automatically” extend sanctions over Ukraine.
Putin in turn called futile the efforts of European leaders to link the lifting of the anti-Russian sanctions with the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.