Hungary is gradually distancing itself from the Kremlin
Although 2022 was representing us Orban-Putin's backdoor agreements, by early 2023, Hungary's leadership was forced to limit its cooperation with Moscow. Throughout the entire past year, the Hungarian government has demonstrated its "special position" in relations with Russia. Although EU countries began to send representatives of Russian diplomatic departments home, Hungary itself in 2022 increased its diplomatic presence of Russians (from 45 personnel diplomats to 56 people). Orban and his entourage actively lobbied for military-political support for Ukraine, blocked several EU initiatives, traded with an aggressor, and facilitated the development of the South Stream to increase the transportation of Russian gas from Serbia to Austria. However, already since October 2022, the EU governments have managed to influence the official Budapest to gradually change their foreign policy priorities. The main instrument became Brussels' threats to withhold funding from Hungary. Furthermore, active discussions began regarding limiting Budapest's political influence on EU decision-making, up to depriving the country of veto power.
Viktor Orban's policy of appeasement towards Russia is ending with the recognition of Russia's inevitable defeat in its war with Ukraine. Hungary, previously taking half-hearted decisions to favor the EU membership, has now stepped up to publicly declare a possible review of their relationship with the Russian Federation under the circumstances of a strained relationship with Europe. It is clear that Budapest must choose between the EU sanctions and friendship with Moscow, as even domestic support for Orban within the country begins to decrease due to his 12 years of authoritarian rule and economic struggles caused by the world economic crisis, while potential benefits from cooperating with Russia are nullified by US and European sanctions.
In essence, Viktor Orban's policy of appeasement is ending with the recognition of Russia's inevitable defeat in the war with Ukraine. After long half-hearted decisions in favor of EU membership, Hungary's autocratic government has stepped up to direct statements on reviewing its relations with the Russian Federation. In particular, the Hungarian Prime Minister publicly declared at the beginning of March about a possible review of relations with Russia and that this will inevitably take place under the conditions of a crisis of relations with Europe. It is obvious that Budapest can no longer manoeuvre between EU sanctions and friendship with Moscow. Moreover, support for Orban's government within the country begins to decrease both objectively and subjectively. Society begins to feel tired from 12 years of one-man rule by Orban, world economic crisis has negative impact on Hungarian prosperity indicators, and potential benefits from cooperation with Russia are completely neutralized by US and European sanctions danger.