Hungary cannot support new EU sanctions against Russia in their current form -Orbán

Hungary cannot support new EU sanctions against Russia in their current form – Viktor Orbán

Hungary cannot support the European Union’s new sanctions package against Russia in its current form, which includes an embargo on imports of Russian crude, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told state radio on Friday.

Orbán said the European Commission’s current proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” being dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary was ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that satisfies Hungarian interests.

The European Union executive on Wednesday proposed the toughest sanctions package yet against Moscow over its war in Ukraine, but several countries concerned about the impact of cutting off oil imports from Russia stood in the way of the deal.

A handful of eastern EU countries are concerned the shutdown won’t give them enough time to adjust, though diplomats said Hungary and Slovakia would be given until the end of 2023.

Orban told state radio that Hungary would need 5 years and huge investments in its refineries and pipelines to be able to transform its current system, which is 65% dependent on Russian oil.

“We know exactly what we need, first of all we need 5 years for this whole process to be completed… a year or a year and a half is not enough at all,” Orban said, adding that Hungary would also need large investments in refineries and in the shipping system to allow the import of non-Russian oil.

Orbán wondered if it was wise to make investments of this magnitude to obtain a result within 4 or 5 years, while the war in Ukraine was happening now.

He said that Hungary was waiting to see a new proposal from the Commission.

“I don’t want to confront the EU, but to cooperate… but this is only possible if they take our interests into account.”

Orbán also said Hungary would not support the blacklisting of the top leader of the Kremlin-allied Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, as it is a “question of religious faith.”

He reiterated Hungary’s position not to send weapons to neighboring Ukraine, as such shipments would become a target for Russian attacks in the area beyond the border, in western Ukraine, where ethnic Hungarians live, he said.

Melissa Galbraith
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