US Announces Sanctions Against Budapest-Based Investment Bank Controlled by Russia and Three Executives
The United States government has announced sanctions against a Budapest-based investment bank, the International Investment Bank (IIB), which is controlled by Russia, and three of its executives, two of whom are Russian and one Hungarian. The move follows concerns expressed by US officials over the past decade about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s moves to centralise power at home and build closer ties abroad with Moscow and Beijing. The Treasury Department has cited the bank’s “presence in Budapest enables Russia to increase its intelligence presence in Europe, opens the door for the Kremlin’s malign influence activities in Central Europe and the Western Balkans, and could serve as a mechanism for corruption and illicit finance, including sanctions violations.” The US has also imposed further sanctions on more than 50 institutions and individuals to limit Russia’s access to the international financial system.
David Pressman, the US Ambassador to Hungary, has held a press conference to announce the sanctions, but the event’s topic was initially unknown. Diplomatic sources suggested that the ambassador may announce new sanctions against Hungary, which has become increasingly hostile towards the US. Orbán recently identified the United States as one of Hungary’s top three adversaries, stating that the US embassy was actively attempting to subvert his administration. Critics view Orbán as the EU's ally closest to Vladimir Putin. Blocking Sweden's attempt to join NATO has worsened the relationship between his government and Washington. Additionally, until March's end, Budapest had been postponing Finland's request to join. Since 2017, Hungary has prevented Ukraine from participating in numerous high-level NATO meetings.
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