Hungary ‘blocks EU’s Russian oil ban’

Hungary continues to prevent the EU from reaching an agreement on a sixth package of sanctions against Russia, including an oil ban, Bloomberg sources quoted as saying.

Ambassadors from the 27 European Union (EU) member states continued to meet at their headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on May 8 to discuss ways to reach an agreement on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia over the military operation in Ukraine. including a ban on Russian oil imports. Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, confirmed that Hungary prevented the bloc from reaching an agreement on the ban.

The EU is said to have asked Hungary and Slovakia, which are heavily dependent on Russian oil imports, and the Czech Republic to postpone the implementation of the sanctions until the second half of 2024. The other countries should soon switch to alternative sources of supply next year at the latest.

However, this concession was not enough to convince Hungary. Two days before the meeting, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban said an oil ban would be a “nuclear bomb” for the country’s economy and said he wanted the EU to give Hungary five years to replace Russian oil.

“We have voted in favor of all sanctions packages so far, but this latest package will destroy the security of Hungary’s energy supply,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a May 8 statement.

Overview of oil processing facilities at the Vankorskoye Oil Plant in Krasnoyarsk Territory, northern Russia in 2015. Photo: Reuters.

Oil processing plants of the Vankorskoye oil plant in Krasnoyarsk Territory, Northern Russia, 2015. Photo: Reuters.

According to Bloomberg, the oil ban does not appear to be the only issue in the proposed EU sanctions package. Banning the provision of ships and services needed to transfer Russian oil to third countries also prompted Greece and Cyprus to disapprove of the package.

The EU has imposed 5 rounds of sanctions on Russia. Earlier last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden confirmed proposals for a sixth package of sanctions, including a total ban on Russian oil, but this will be implemented according to the roadmap. The sanctions package must be approved by all 27 member countries before it can come into force.

The EU imports 3-3.5 million barrels of Russian oil per day with payments of around USD 400 million per day. Russian supply accounts for about 27% of the bloc’s oil imports. Oil and gas revenues will account for 45% of Russia’s federal budget in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.

Hungary says 65% of its oil and 85% of its gas supply comes from Russia.

Pipelines delivering Russian gas to Europe.  Click on the image to see details.

Pipelines delivering Russian gas to Europe. Click on the image to see details.

Huyen Le (Corresponding Bloomberg, rt)