Hungary Blocks EU Oil Import Ban on Russia Over Energy Security Concerns

While the European Union has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia including an oil import ban, Hungary continues to block the proposal that aims to weaken Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.

27 member states’ ambassadors to the EU met on Sunday over the matter but it ended without an agreement. The discussions are expected to resume in the coming days. A ban on shipping Russian oil to third countries may also be delayed until G7 countries commit to similar measures.

The EU seeks to phase out Russian crude oil imports over the next six months and refined fuels by January 2023. The bloc had offered Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2024 and the Czech Republic until June of the same year to comply with the measures as they are more reliant on Russian crude.

Despite EU’s exemption, Hungary remains unconvinced. It continued to block the plan on Sunday over the oil ban as well as how to fund the transition away from Russian energy.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto said his country has supported all the sanction packages so far but the latest one would destroy Hungary’s energy supply security. He added that Hungary would not vote for the package unless there’s a solution to the problem caused by the EU’s proposal.

The EU plan circulated to member states last week states European companies and individuals would be banned from providing vessels and services, such as insurance, needed to transport oil to third countries.

Greece and Cyprus want the vessels portion of that proposal delayed until after G-7 countries adopt similar measures.

The EU’s new sanctions package also includes cutting three more Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system, including the country’s largest lender, Sberbank, and restricting Russian individuals and entities from purchasing property in the EU.

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