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Hungary imports nuclear fuel from Russia by air, says foreign minister

Hungary received the first supply of nuclear fuel for its Paks nuclear reactor by air from Russia on Wednesday, after the crisis in Ukraine rendered rail shipping difficult, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Szijjarto repeated Hungary’s rejection of any penalties on Russian oil and gas, adding that placing sanctions on nuclear energy activities was also a ‘red line’ for Hungary.

‘Fuel (for the Paks factory) has always come from Russia by train via Ukraine, regrettably… this is no longer possible, therefore we had to find an other transportation method,’ Szijjarto explained in a Facebook video from Brussels.

He stated that the fuel supply arrived in Hungary via the airspace of Belarus, Poland, and Slovakia, with the agreement of all three nations, as nuclear energy is not subject to European Union sanctions.

Hungary intends to expand its Russian-built 2-gigatonne Paks nuclear power station with two Russian-made VVER reactors, each with a 1.2 gigatonne capacity.

The project, which was handed to nuclear company Rosatom without a tender in 2014, has frequently been touted as evidence of good connections between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The project has been delayed.

Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term in Sunday’s elections, told a news conference on Wednesday that Budapest wants to enhance its Western connections since Hungary’s future lay in the EU and NATO.

However, he also stated that Hungary was willing to pay roubles for Russian gas, breaking ranks with the EU, which has sought to present a united front in resisting Moscow’s demand for payment in the currency.



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