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EU Push for Partial Russian Oil Ban Delayed by Hungary’s Demands


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These translations are done via Google Translate
European Union efforts to approve a partial ban on Russian oil imports hit an obstacle after Hungary raised new or already rejected demands, further slowing a push to clinch a deal, according to people familiar with the negotiations.EU ambassadors may meet again on Thursday in Luxembourg to try to green light the bloc’s sixth sanctions package that would target Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Sanctions in the EU require the unanimous consent of its 27 nations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blocked the latest package of measures for weeks. EU leaders appeared to achieve a breakthrough on Monday when they gave their political blessing to the sanctions, leading many to say approval was close at hand.

Sanctions in the EU require the unanimous consent of its 27 nations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blocked the latest package of measures for weeks. EU leaders appeared to achieve a breakthrough on Monday when they gave their political blessing to the sanctions, leading many to say approval was close at hand.

Hungary’s latest intervention, at a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels on Wednesday, further strains its deteriorating relations with the EU, which has sparked speculation over whether Hungary would one day follow the UK in leaving or being forced out of the bloc.

The new sanctions measures, which would represent the EU’s toughest yet, are aimed at curbing Russia’s ability to finance the war in Ukraine. The proposed sanctions aim to ban the import of seaborne oil by the end of the year, while exempting pipeline crude as a concession to Hungary and other landlocked countries, which rely on Russian supplies through the Druzhba pipeline.

During the closed-door meeting on Wednesday when ambassadors were trying to finalize the sanctions, Hungary demanded that Patriarch Kirill, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church and has been a vocal supporter of President Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine, be removed from the EU’s proposed list of sanctioned individuals, two of the people said.

The Hungarian request was not raised by Orban with the leaders at the Monday meeting, according to the people.

GLJ

Budapest also asked that it be granted the right to sell Russian oil that it refines, the two people said, exempting Hungary from the current proposal that would prohibit countries that import pipeline oil from selling it to others once the ban on seaborne supplies kicks in. This request was rejected when Orban raised it at the leaders’ summit.

GLJ

Hungary crossed a line at the ambassadors’ meeting and the mood was not good, one of the people said. Hungary’s stance at the talks was scandalous, an official added. The French presidency of the EU told the gathering that the credibility of the ambassadors, and of the European Council, were at stake, another official said.

A spokesperson from the Hungarian government didn’t reply to a request for comment.

During the leaders’ meeting Monday, the EU granted assurances that Budapest could source alternative oil supplies should Hungary’s pipeline deliveries be disrupted.

Orban has argued that continued access to cheaper Russian oil was crucial for Hungary, where he has capped fuel prices and maintained lavish household utility subsidies. The costs of maintaining the measures soared as commodity prices spiked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Orban has tested the limits of EU membership with a domestic power grab since 2010 and foreign policy that cultivated close relations with authoritarian leaders of Russia, China and Turkey, which has led Budapest several times to block EU pro-democracy statements that would have required unanimity.



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