Understand why Hungary is blocking EU’s top sanctions package against Russia | Ukraine and Russia

Last Wednesday (4), the United States and its allies in the European Union announced that they want to apply a stronger sanction against Russia, this time banning the purchase of oil from Moscow until the end of the year.

After some positive responses to proceed with the package, Hungary took a stand against the application.

As disclosed by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, the country could not join the embargo in the way it was initially presented.

Orban said the European Commission’s proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy.

Orban told state radio that Hungary would need 5 years and make large investments in its refineries and pipelines to transform its current system, which depends about 65% on Russian oil.

“I don’t want to confront the EU, but to cooperate … but that is only possible if they take our interests into account,” he said later on Friday.

World leaders movement

Diesel power plant at the Yarakta oil field, Russia — Photo: Vasily Fedosenko/REUTERS

Initially, the European Union ceded the Hungarian option to hold the embargo for later, however, it had set a December 2024 date for the end of imports.

Still without a Hungarian positive, world leaders began trying to negotiate directly with Orban.

President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen (left), and Viktor Orban (right), Prime Minister of Hungary. — Photo: Prime Minister’s Press Office/Viven Cher Benko/via Reuters

During the night of this Monday, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, spoke personally with Viktor Orban to resolve the problems in the negotiation on the Russian oil embargo.

“Tonight’s discussion with Prime Minister Viktor Orban was helpful in clarifying issues related to sanctions and energy security. We’ve made progress, but more work needs to be done,” she said.

On Tuesday, the current president of France, Emmanuel Macron, held a telephone meeting with Orban about the situation.

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed facilitating the entry of Eastern European countries into the EU and simpler voting in the bloc, on May 9, 2022 — Photo: Associated Press

Shortly thereafter, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, reported that if EU ambassadors do not reach an agreement this week, that foreign ministers could try to break any deadlock.

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