The economic toll of the Russian war in Ukraine tests Western solidarity

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has an affectionate relationship with Putin and has been at odds with Brussels, threw hopes of a demonstration of unity into chaos when he blocked the latest measure, arguing that a ban on Russian oil would be the equivalent of an “atomic bomb” for the Hungarian economy.

Mr. Orban continued to resist, even after concessions that would give Hungary more time to get rid of Russian oil and intense lobbying by other leaders. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, flew to Budapest to try to influence him while President Emmanuel Macron phoned him.

“We will support this proposal only if Brussels proposes a solution to the problem created by Brussels”, said the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, adding that the modernization of the Hungarian energy sector would cost “many, many billions of euros”.

In Washington, Mr. Biden encountered fewer problems rounding off support for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The House vote in favor of a massive aid package showed how the brutality of the war overcame both left and right resistance to American involvement in military conflicts abroad.

Yet the war-aggravated rise in food and fuel prices poses a real threat to Mr. Biden. The price of food rose 0.9% in April from the previous month, according to data released Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said the administration was “terribly concerned about global food supplies,” adding that 275 million people around the world face hunger.