US Sanctions Hungarian Bank Due to Russian Connection

On April 12, 2023, the United States slapped sanctions on a Hungary-based bank over its connections to Russia. Since Joe Biden was installed as the president of the US, American-Hungarian relations have been on a downward trend. This latest move has only deteriorated these relations. 

Per a Reuters report, the sanctions targeted three top officials in the International Investment Bank in Budapest, two Russian nationals, and one Hungarian national. US Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman revealed that the US had warned Hungary about the bank’s connections to Russia on a previous occasion.

“Unlike other NATO allies previously engaged with this Russian entity, Hungary has dismissed the concerns of the United States government regarding the risks its continued presence poses to the alliance,” Pressman said reporters in Budapest.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has gained notoriety for exercising a multi-vector foreign policy where he has made efforts to maintain good relations with Russia and the West. As far as the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is concerned,Orban has been vocal about bringing this conflict to an end while also putting roadblocks on EU sanctions on Russia, which has angered policymakers in the EU and the US . Hungary was also able to obtain an exemption from the Russian oil ban due its nature as a land-locked country, which makes it dependent on pipeline infrastructure to fulfill its energy needs.

“We have concerns, about the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties with the Russian Federation,” Pressman stated. Since winning re-election in the spring of 2022, Orban’s government has faced increased criticism from the US and EU due to his government pursuing nationalist policies that usually ruffle the feathers of Western elites.

Dave DeCamp of Antiwar.con noted that the sanctions “came after a top-secret CIA document that surfaced on the internet as part of a trove of leaks revealed that the US was likely spying on Orban.” According to the document, during a February meeting with his aides, Orban said the US, especially under the Biden regime, as one of his Fidesz Party’s top three enemies.

For the simple acts of implementing nationalist domestic and pursuing realist foreign policies, Hungary gets punished. That’s what happens when a country’s foreign policy — the US in this case — is guided by a universalist foreign policy.

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