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Hungary in talks with Russia about buying more gas

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Russia will consider a request from Hungary to buy more Russian gas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, after meeting his Hungarian counterpart in Moscow.

Lavrov was speaking during a visit to Moscow by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

European Union member Hungary has maintained what it calls pragmatic relations with Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, creating tensions with some EU allies keen to take a tougher line.

Hungary, which is about 85% dependent on Russian gas, firmly opposes the idea of any EU sanctions on Russian gas imports.

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Szijjarto told a news conference that in order to ensure safety of supplies, Hungary needed a further 700 million cubic meters of gas on top of an existing long-term supply deal with Russia.

“Looking at the current market situation, like it or not … without Russian sources it would not be possible to buy an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas,” Szijjarto said, adding talks were underway with Russia about the additional purchases.

Lavrov told the same news conference that Russia would consider the Hungarian request to increase gas purchases from Russia.

Szijjarto said Hungary’s gas storages had been filled to a level that covers just over 27% of the country’s annual consumption needs.

“My goal is to complete the talks as soon as possible,” he added, reiterating Hungary wanted a ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Ukraine.

Under a 15-year deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year via Bulgaria and Serbia, and a further 1 bcm via a pipeline from Austria.

Szijjarto said on Monday that Hungary was in talks with Russia about redirecting all of its gas shipments under the long-term supply deal to the Turkstream pipeline that brings gas to Hungary via Serbia. The ministers did not mention this topic at Thursday’s press conference. (Reporting by Reuters Editing by Nick Macfie and Mark Potter)

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