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Hungary’s Leader Will Pay for Russian Gas in Rubles in Break With EU

Hungary’s authoritarian prime minister has broken ranks with the European Union, saying that he will pay for Russian gas in rubles amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine

“We don’t have any difficulty paying in rubles. If the Russians ask us to, we pay in rubles,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told reporters on Wednesday, according to a tweet by Hungary’s international spokesman Zoltan Kovacs. 

Putin has threatened to stop sending gas to Europe if countries Russia designated as “unfriendly” don’t pay in rubles. 

“If unfriendly countries do not pay in rubles from April 1, we will consider this a default on gas contracts, in which case existing contracts will be stopped,” Putin said after signing a decree on Thursday, according to Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti.

The list of “unfriendly countries,” which received the designation from Russia in response to widespread condemnation of its six-week invasion of Ukraine, includes the US, UK, and EU countries. 

Hungary is a member of the EU, though Orbán is an ally of Putin. The Hungarian leader recently referred to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as one of his “opponents” in his victory speech after he was re-elected to a fourth term.

Other European leaders have rejected Putin’s demands to pay for Russian gas in rubles. 

Germany — Europe’s largest economy — has already activated an emergency plan to deal with disruptions to its natural-gas supply.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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