Orban warns oil embargo plan against Russia will be ‘historic failure’
Sanctions holdout Viktor Orban says the plan will cause more harm to Hungary than Russia and could disrupt EU unity
Budapest — The EU’s new sanctions package against Russia, including an embargo on crude oil imports, would cause more harm to Hungary than Russia and would harm the bloc’s unity, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said, according to news website index.hu on Thursday.
In a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Orban said the EU’s latest sanctions package risked undermining the bloc’s unity and its approval would be a historic failure.
Orban’s press chief did not immediately respond to emailed questions for comment.
The EU’s executive on Wednesday proposed the toughest package of sanctions yet against Moscow for its war in Ukraine, but several countries worried about the effect of cutting off Russia oil imports stood in the way of agreement.
A handful of eastern EU countries are concerned that the halt would not allow them enough time to adapt, even though diplomats said Hungary and Slovakia would be given until the end of 2023.
Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said that, even with the lag, Hungary could only agree to the measures if crude oil imports from Russia via pipeline were exempt from the sanctions.
Index.hu cited Orban’s letter as saying approval of the proposed sanctions would require large-scale investment in alternative supply infrastructure and an overhaul of Hungarian oil refining capacities.
Orban also said the measures would cause a further increase in energy prices without sufficient remedial measures by the EU to mitigate the fallout.
The landlocked country — whose prime minister cultivates closer ties with the Kremlin than others in the bloc — received more than half of its crude oil and oil products imports from Russia in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.
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