News portal Index.hu reported an account that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had proposed to Ukraine that it “stops oil deliveries to Hungary” through the Druzhba pipeline. Hungarian oil and gas company MOL has stopped direct negotiations with Ukraine’s Ukrtransnafta, alleging that the company had “blackmailed” its Hungarian partner, Index said on Wednesday. Citing leaked documents of phone taps by the US secret service, Index said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in February that the Druzhba pipeline, a crucial element of Hungarian energy supplies, should be “blown up”, because the country was “pro-Russia”.
A cabinet member, asking not to be named, told Index after the article was published that the government was “outraged” by the words attributed to Zelensky. The cabinet member added the fact that Hungarian OTP Bank was now also on a list of sanctions “makes matters worse”, adding that Hungary has blocked the use of the EU’s peace funds as a result. The pipeline delivers 8 million tonnes of Russian oil to Hungary every year. Stopping deliveries would deal a serious blow to the country, Index said.
Ukrtransnafta CEO Volodymyr Tsependa on Monday sent a letter to MOL, saying that Ukraine found Hungarian steps to stem the glut of Ukrainian grain into the country too harsh. According to Index, Tsependa also said they had received “a message from Ursula van der Leyen and others suggesting that crude deliveries to Hungary should be halted if this is how Hungarians approach things.” Tsependa added that he was ready to negotiate. The article said that MOL saw this as blackmail and it would not negotiate directly with the Ukrainian company. “There is no direct information on whether Ursula von der Leyen or others have really sent such a message to Ukrtransnafta; it is much more likely that the letter to MOL was sent on the instruction of domestic political actors,” Index said. Meanwhile, Ukraine has been steadily increasing its transit fee for Russian oil to Hungary, it added.
MOL turned to Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó on Tuesday and briefed him about the letter. Ukraine’s ambassador to Budapest has also been contacted, Index said.