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  • Hungary ‘holding EU hostage’ over sanctions on Russian oil - The Guardian
  • 2022 May 17 11:02

    Hungary ‘holding EU hostage’ over sanctions on Russian oil - The Guardian

    Hungary has been accused of “holding the EU hostage” over its refusal to agree an oil embargo against Russia, as the bloc struggles to reach consensus on its latest sanctions, according to The Guardian.

    Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said: “Unfortunately the whole union is being held hostage by one member state.” He was referring to Hungary, which continues to block the oil embargo, despite being offered an extension on phasing out Russian crude until the end of 2024.

    Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said on Monday that his country would not block EU sanctions against Russia as long as they posed no risk to Hungary’s energy security.

    In a combative speech after being sworn in for a fourth straight term, he blamed EU sanctions as partly responsible for high energy prices. “Every day Brussels abuses its power and tries to impose things on us that we do not want,” he said.

    The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, said it would cost between €15bn and €18bn (£12.75bn and £15.3bn) for the “complete modernisation of the Hungarian energy infrastructure” to phase out Russian oil, and called on the EU to come up with a plan. “It is legitimate” for Hungary to expect a proposal from the European Commission, he said.

    Hungary, which is nearly completely dependent on Russian oil, is holding up an EU-wide embargo that requires unanimity from the 27 member states.

    The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday had been unable to break the deadlock, because “we have the same difficulties about unanimity”. Ministers did, however, agreed on a further €500m in EU-funded military aid for Ukraine, taking the total pledged since the start of the operation to €2bn.

    The EU has been unable to agree to its sixth package of sanctions against Russia – which includes asset freezes and travel bans on prominent Vladimir Putin supporters – 12 days after the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, outlined plans for a Russian oil embargo to come into force at the end of 2022.

    Since the proposals, EU officials have made a series of concessions. A plan to ban EU ships from transporting Russian oil was dropped, after opposition from Greece and Cyprus, which worried their industries would lose out to competitors.

    Meanwhile, landlocked countries that are heavily dependent on Russian oil were offered a delay in joining the EU embargo. Hungary and Slovakia were given until the end of 2024, while the Czech Republic has been offered a June 2024 deadline. While Slovakia and the Czech Republic appear ready to sign off the sanctions, Budapest continues to hold out on the oil embargo, which the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has likened to an atomic bomb hitting his country’s economy.




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