Embassy of the United States of America
April 12, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador David Pressman’s Remarks at a Press Conference Announcing Sanctions Designations
Jó napot kívánok! Thanks for joining me today. Today, the United States announced sanctions on more than fifty entities and individuals across more than twenty jurisdictions in order to curb Russia’s and sanctioned Russian persons’ access to the international financial system through the use of financial facilitators, co-opted financial institutions, and third-country intermediaries.
Among those designated are the Budapest-based, Russia-controlled International Investment Bank (IIB) and three of its senior executives resident in Hungary, including one Hungarian national: Nikolay Kosov, Georgy Potapov, and Imre Laszloczki. The presence of this opaque Kremlin platform in the heart of Hungary threatens the security and sovereignty of the Hungarian people, their European neighbors, and their NATO Allies.
Across multiple administrations, the United States has urged Hungary – and other NATO member countries engaged with this Russia-controlled entity – to take seriously the threat posed by Russia and other countries that do not share Western values, especially a commitment to democracy and rule of law. These concerns have only increased in light of Russia’s brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the atrocities its forces are committing every single day.
Since this Russia-controlled entity moved from Moscow to Budapest in 2019, the United States has engaged the Hungarian government on numerous occasions to register our concern about the risks its presence in Hungary poses for the NATO Alliance. We have consistently shared information with our Hungarian partners about the myriad ways Russia could use this platform to expand its malign influence in Hungary and across the region.
Unlike other NATO Allies previously engaged with this Russian entity, Hungary has dismissed the concerns of the United States government regarding the risks its continued presence poses to the Alliance. It has been reported that Hungary’s own central bank has recommended Hungary cut ties with this Russian entity because of the risks its presence in Budapest poses to Hungary’s economy. Yet the Hungarian government has remained committed to hosting Russia’s International Investment Bank.
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 against Ukraine and threat to transatlantic security. Close economic engagement with Russia feeds the Russian war machine, which threatens transatlantic security. With this announcement, the United States is demonstrating that we will take action in response to Hungary’s choices and to curb the access of Russia and sanctioned Russian persons to the international financial system.
Let me conclude by saying, the U.S.-Hungary relationship is longstanding. It is important. It is important to us. The United States is committed to a close and constructive relationship with Hungary, our valued NATO Ally. We need to work together to address the serious issues we face, and this action is one step in that direction. With that, I’ll be happy to take your questions.