By Krisztina Than and Pavel Polityuk
BUDAPEST/KYIV (Reuters) -Ukraine and Hungary summoned one another’s ambassadors on Tuesday in a growing row over Budapest’s signing of a new long-term gas deal with Russia, which Kyiv regards as a threat to its national security.
The flows will run mainly via the newly-built Russian undersea gas pipeline TurkStream, not through Ukraine, which says it fears politically-motivated cuts in the transhipments from Russia for which it gets paid.
Ukraine’s Energy Minister was expected to meet his European Union counterpart over the issue while Russia warned Ukraine not to interfere in the deal, which coincides with broader European concern over Russian gas supply policy amid soaring gas prices.
Hungary accused Ukraine of meddling in its internal affairs on Monday after Kyiv criticised it over the signing of a new 15-year supply deal with Russia’s Gazprom (MCX:).
Peter Szijjarto the foreign minister, stated Tuesday that Ukraine was summoning its ambassador to question what he called attempts by Ukraine against the gas supply agreement.
Szijjarto stated that Ukraine’s attempt to stop a safe gas supply to Hungary is a violation in our sovereignty.
Ukraine claimed Monday that the agreement was “purely political and economically unwise” and would request the European Commission for an assessment of whether its energy laws are being respected.
Szijjarto said Tuesday that he was outraged, while Dmitry Peskov (Kremlin spokesperson) dismissed Ukraine’s concerns and stated that the agreement was only bilateral.
He said that “no one is being violated” and added that there were no rights or norms being broken.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry told Reuters on Tuesday it had summoned the Hungarian ambassador in a tit-for-tat move.
In a text message, the foreign ministry’s spokesman stated that “Gas transport bypassing Ukraine undermines both our country’s and Europe’s energy security.”
It said that the Ukrainian side would take “decisive measures to safeguard national interests”, but did not elaborate.
EU’s executive committee stated that members could enter into bilateral gas arrangements but needed to inform the commission within three months if they exceeded 28% annual consumption. It also noted that the EU-member Hungary signed a deal exceeding this limit.
“Kadri Simson, the Commissioner for Energy, is meeting Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko today,” a commission spokesperson said in an email. The commission did not provide details about the meeting, but stated that it could request a contract to be reviewed if security concerns arise.
The deal, signed Monday and effective Oct. 1, will see Gazprom ship approximately 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Hungary via two routes. 3.5 billion cubicmetres via Serbia, 1 billion cubicmetres via Austria. Russia’s 2021 total gas exports are expected to reach 183 billion cubes.
International Energy Agency and European Parliament have made accusations against Russia’s largest gas producer. They claim that it has not done enough to improve natural gas supplies to Europe where prices for gas have risen dramatically.
Russia stated that it was fulfilling its obligations and ready to expand supply.
The dispute about the rights to the language of 150,000 Hungarians who live in Transcarpathia, a western Ukrainian region, has strained relations between Hungary and Ukraine for many years.
Kyiv angered Budapest by imposing a restriction on the use of minor languages, including Hungarian, in schools in 2017.
Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of the Nationalist Government in Hungary, reacted by preventing former Soviet Ukraine from establishing closer relations with NATO and Europe.