Viktor Orban's Hungary has continued as a thorn in the side of European planners and policymakers, with the latest on Tuesday being a resounding veto on an 18-billion euro ($18.93bn) financial aid package for the Ukrainian government.
While the aid can still possibly and eventually reach Kiev, Hungary's veto ensures a longer, drawn out and more complicated process if EU aid is to remain flowing - something which officials are still vowing to pursue.
Now a more technical solution will be sought, as Tuomas Saarenheimo, the chairman of the EU Council Economic and Financial Committee, described in Tuesday comments: "In the end, agreement was found on formulations that allow a flexible and quick way to deploy funds to Ukraine without fundamentally changing the way the EU manages its funds. I say agreement, but in the reality, that agreement was minus one."
And so Budapest as the lone dissenter has deepened its rift with Brussels, following similar deep disagreements over sanctioning Russian energy, which Hungary is almost wholly dependent on...
Many nations see Orban’s tactics as a thinly veiled attempt to get the EU to release billions in regular funding and pandemic recovery cash that has been held up.
The EU’s 27 nations have until December 19 to make a decision, and EU leaders meet for a two-day summit next week, increasing the chances that the issues would still need to be grappled with later.
Some European officials are blasting Orban for holding the suffering Ukrainian people "hostage" with his resistance.
Daniel Freund, a member of the Green party and a parliamentary negotiator on the rule of law issue, was quoted in The Associated Press as follows: "Viktor Orban is abusing the veto like no one before him.... He even takes funds for Ukrainian hospitals hostage for this. He is escalating the situation completely."
"The EU will find ways to support Ukraine even without Hungary. But that means: more time, more effort, more costs. Viktor Orban could not have given Putin a nicer present today," Freund said, echoing prior charges that Orban is under 'Kremlin influence' - an accusation which was hurled even before Russia's invasion.
Meanwhile the Financial Times is reporting Tuesday that the European Commission is mulling the imposition fresh sanctions on Russia's mining sector, describing mining revenue as a key sector the Kremlin can tap into to keep funding the Ukraine war. Some specific products might be exempted, but it would bar all new investments in Russian mining.