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Hungary must radically increase its defence capabilities, PM Orban says

·1 min read
EU leaders hold summit on Russian oil sanctions, in Brussels

BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary will speed up its defence development programme, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

"We must radically increase our defence capabilities," Orban said. He reiterated that Hungary's interest was for the war in neighbouring Ukraine to end as soon as possible.

Speaking after a NATO summit that saw the alliance also agree to take in Finland and Sweden, Orban said that slowly "military realities" manifested in Ukraine as the country was losing many soldiers each day and while the front seemed still far away from Hungary, that situation could change.

He reiterated that Hungary, as a NATO ally, must stay out of the war.

"We must start the engines ... and accelerate our defence development programmme," Orban said.

Orban, who was reelected in April for a fourth consecutive term with a landslide, said Hungary was not even willing to negotiate about any potential EU embargo or limitations on Russian gas imports as that would undermine the Hungarian economy.

"Its not sanctions that would be needed but an immediate ceasefire and peace talks," he said, adding that peace was also needed to curb what he called "war inflation."

Hungarian inflation is running in double digits despite price caps on fuels, energy bills, and basic foodstuffs, which forced the National Bank of Hungary to raise its base rate by 185 bps to 7.75% on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Toby Chopra)