Washington has imposed sanctions on a Russian-dominated bank in Budapest and several of its officials, a top US diplomat said Wednesday, in a move likely to further strain relations with Hungary.
The officials are among dozens newly added on a US sanction list of entities and individuals with Washington seeking to curb Russians' access to the international financial system.
David Pressman, US ambassador in Budapest, said the Russia-controlled International Investment Bank (IIB) and three of its senior executives -- a Hungarian and two Russians -- all living in Hungary have been sanctioned.
IIB moved its headquarters to Budapest in 2019 under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who cultivated close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the Ukraine war.
Orban has drawn fierce criticism from both EU and NATO allies for his neutral stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"We have concerns about the continued eagerness of Hungarian leaders to expand and deepen ties with the Russian Federation despite Russia's ongoing brutal aggression to Ukraine and threat to transatlantic security," Pressman told reporters.
"With this announcement the US is demonstrating that we will take action in response to Hungary's choices," he added.
Pressman also said the presence of IIB "this opaque Kremlin platform in the heart of Hungary threatens the security and sovereignty of the Hungarian people, their European neighbours and their NATO allies".
Orban's chief-of-staff Gergely Gulyas said earlier Wednesday that the US was "trying to squeeze Hungary into the pro-war position".
"There is no alliance, diplomatic or even friendly pressure that Hungary will not resist," Gulyas told reporters, adding that Budapest will not change its position, "not even in light of US pressure".
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced on Tuesday, on his fourth trip to Moscow since the invasion, an expansion of oil and gas energy deals with Russia.
Szijjarto also hosted his Belarusian counterpart Sergei Aleinik in Budapest Wednesday to discuss energy security.
Since taking office in 2010, Orban has regularly clashed with both Brussels and the US over charges he has steered Hungary down an authoritarian path.
Close to former US president Donald Trump, Orban has accused the current Joe Biden-led administration of trying to weaken his government and strengthen the Hungarian opposition.
In 2014 the US slapped entry visa bans on six unnamed Hungarian government officials.
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