Tuesday, July 5

Orbán now vetoes the sanctions against the Russian patriarch and maintains the blockade of the new package against Putin

Viktor Orbán continues to block the sixth package of sanctions against Russia. After a month arguing problems to embargo Russian oil, and getting an exemption to the one that reaches Hungary at the summit of EU leaders this Monday and Tuesday, now he is putting problems on the new list of sanctioned people, which includes Russian Patriarch Kirill.

The ambassadors of the 27 to the EU have been unable to make the political decision of the Heads of State and Government 48 hours ago a norm because the Hungarian ambassador has brought out an argument that the Prime Minister himself kept to himself in the European Council: his opposition to sanctioning the Russian patriarch. Thus, when an almost procedural meeting was expected to approve the package of sanctions lined up by the EU leaders, it has been closed without an agreement, and it is expected that this Thursday – or Friday – they can resume it. Hungary has raised problems as soon as the matter has been addressed and, from there, the ambassadors have decided to put the matter on hold until a new summons.

Diplomatic sources have explained that Hungary’s opposition presents legal doubts, as it contradicts what was agreed by the European Council, despite the fact that the European Council in its conclusions does not include the complete list of sanctioned people.

The sanctions include the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, described as “Putin’s altar boy” by Pope Francis, whom Brussels accuses Kirill of being “one of the most important supporters of Russian military aggression against Ukraine.” Brussels cites a series of sermons in which Kiril called Putin’s war a “peacekeeping special operation” or described the military actions as “a war against evil” for the “spiritual purification of Ukraine” in “an operation of religious cleanliness.

The family of Kremlin spokesman Dimtri Peskov also appears on the list: the daughter, Elizaveta; the son, Nikolai; and wife, Tatiana Navka, all accused of using Peskov’s wealth and money, as well as Vladimir Putin’s alleged partner, Alina Kabaeva.

Indeed, EU leaders agreed early Monday on a partial embargo on Russian oil to overcome Viktor Orbán’s veto. The 27 agreed in Brussels to leave crude oil through pipelines out of the embargo to achieve the yes of Hungary, 100% dependent on Russian supplies. That is to say, they reached a political agreement that supposes leaving Hungary out of the new energy sanctions on Russia –and also covers Slovakia and the Czech Republic–, to which a deadline for exemption is not applied in the conclusions agreed by the leaders . The sanctions also mention the risk of distorting the internal market due to the cheaper price of Russian oil by pipeline compared to others that receive it by ship from other latitudes – something that would especially affect in the event that supplies by pipeline to Germany and Poland would last for a long time.

Hungary is also concerned about supply alternatives. What happens if the pipeline is cut because Ukraine, Russia or a bomb cut it? In the end, what is being said is that if there is an interruption in supply, exceptional measures are planned to guarantee supply. “It is important to take this into account”, said the president of the European Council, Charles Michel: “We have taken into account the security of supply for Hungary, that is why the agreement has been so difficult. Now everything is more complex. Second, the ambassadors do everything in their power to wean off dependence on Russian fossil fuel. Today’s decision takes into account the situation of landlocked countries, not just Hungary, and on Wednesday the ambassadors will have to adopt a text that follows the principles agreed today.”