Orban says new EU sanctions against Russia will hurt Hungary more

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks as he and Hungarian President Janos Ader deliver a statement to the media after their talks at the Presidential Palace in Budapest, Hungary, April 29, 2022. REUTERS/Bernadette Szabo

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BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the European Union’s new package of sanctions against Russia, including a ban on crude oil imports, will hurt Hungary more than Russia, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Orban said the EU’s latest package of sanctions risked undermining the bloc’s unity and that approval would be a historic failure.

Urban’s press officer did not immediately respond to emailed questions for comment.

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The EU executive on Wednesday proposed the toughest sanctions package yet against Moscow over its war in Ukraine, but many countries are concerned about the impact of cutting Russian oil imports in the way of the deal. Read more

A handful of eastern EU countries worry that the pause will not allow them enough time to adapt, although diplomats say Hungary and Slovakia will be granted until the end of 2023.

Foreign Minister Peter Szyjjarto said that even with the delay, Hungary could only agree to the measures if the pipeline’s imports of crude oil from Russia were exempted from sanctions.

Orban’s letter was quoted by Index.hu as saying that approval of the proposed sanctions would require large-scale investment in alternative supply infrastructure and an overhaul of Hungary’s oil refining capabilities.

Orban also said that the measures will lead to another increase in energy prices without sufficient remedial measures by the European Union to mitigate the repercussions.

The landlocked country — whose prime minister has closer ties with the Kremlin than others in the bloc — received more than half of its imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

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(Reporting by Gergeli Szakas) Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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