Tuesday, May 24

Hungary maintains blockade of Russian oil embargo

New meeting. On Sunday. And new disagreement. The sixth package of sanctions is choking the 27: the problem is how the embargo on Russian oil can be managed in countries with as much dependence as difficulties in finding alternatives to supply, such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

“The Council of the EU is united on the need to adopt a sixth package of sanctions”, explain diplomatic sources: “Based on the proposals of the European Commission and the European External Action Service, there have been intense debates in the recent days and very significant progress has been made in most of the measures”.

The sources continue, referring to Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia: “We still have work to finalize, in a spirit of solidarity, to agree on the guarantees that are necessary for the oil supply conditions of the Member States that are currently in a very specific situation regarding pipeline supply from Russia.”

“Contacts at all levels continue at the beginning of the week with the aim of reaching a full agreement on this sixth package as soon as possible,” the sources conclude. This Monday is a holiday in Brussels, so no more meetings are expected until, at the earliest, Tuesday, a week after the European Commission’s proposal began to circulate among the 27 after its approval by the college of commissioners.

The main stumbling block has to do with the effect of the gradual embargo on Russian oil by the EU. The European Commission proposes that it take place six months from now, and grants a margin of one more year for Hungary and Slovakia, the most dependent countries, without access to the sea and with the greatest difficulties in disconnecting from Russia.

Since that initial proposal, the sources say that rapprochements are taking place, but at the moment they are not enough. This Friday afternoon, technical contacts will continue between the French presidency of the Council of the EU, the European Commission, and the countries, in order to find a meeting point.

As a result of the difficulties in reaching an agreement, it is possible that the High Representative for Security and Defence, Josep Borrell, will call an extraordinary meeting of Foreign Ministers to address the matter.

Diplomatic sources acknowledge that it is becoming more difficult to approve sanctions, because they have more and more repercussions in the countries that apply them. But, at the same time, they explain that, since the formal proposal began to circulate on Tuesday afternoon, the days are passing and decision-making cannot be delayed much longer.

In this sense, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has used very harsh language to define the latest sanctions proposal from the European Commission. According to Orbán, the main ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, among the 27, giving up Russian oil within the proposed period would mean an “atomic bomb” for the economy of the Central European country. “The proposal that is on the table creates a problem and does not propose a solution to that problem. This is unacceptable from the Hungarian point of view,” Orbán explained in his Friday talk on Kossuth public radio.

According to Orbán, the Brussels proposal also does not take into account the different geographical conditions of each country, which, in the case of Hungary, does not have the possibility of importing oil by sea, and crude “only arrives through a pipeline from Russia.”

Hungary imports 60% of its oil and 85% of its gas from Russia.

Orbán also seems to be against the sanctions against the Russian patriarch, Kirill, one of the names included in the latest proposal, along with the gymnast and alleged partner of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Alina Kabayeva.

Kabayeva is a former gymnast who heads the National Media Group, a holding company that owns stakes in almost all of the major Russian media outlets that disseminate government information, according to the community document, and would therefore be responsible for supporting actions that undermine independence and integrity. territory of Ukraine. Kabaeva is “closely associated with President Vladimir Putin,” according to the document. The EU has previously sanctioned the Russian president and two of his daughters that she had with his ex-wife.

The sanctions involve the freezing of assets that people and companies have in the EU and the prohibition of entering community territory.

In parallel, there is another front in the south: Greece does not want to give up shipping contracts for shipping Russian oil, which would now be prohibited. Like Malta and Cyprus, Athens raised concerns about the idea of ​​banning tankers flying the EU flag or under EU control from shipping Russian oil.

According to Brussels, the tanker ban is crucial to ensure that the embargo actually has the effect of reducing Moscow’s income.


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