Hungary holds up EU plan to ban imports of Russian oil

Hungary is holding up an EU plan to ban virtually all imports of Russian oil, saying it will block the transfer, which requires unanimity among the many bloc’s 27 member states.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Fee, vowed on Wednesday that the EU would part out all provides of crude or refined Russian oil in an “orderly fashion”. The ban would hit crude oil inside six months and refined merchandise by the top of the 12 months.

However Hungary on Wednesday mentioned it will reject the proposal except there was an exception for nations prefer it that import Russian crude through pipelines.

“In its current form the Brussels sanctions package cannot be supported, we cannot responsibly vote for it,” international minister Péter Szijjártó mentioned in a Fb video. “Hungary could only agree with these sanctions if pipeline imports of crude oil would be exempt from the restrictions. Then Hungary’s energy security could be maintained. Now it cannot.”

Szijjártó mentioned sanctions would make it “impossible to procure the crude oil the Hungarian economy needs to operate”.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic even have doubts as they depend on the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline, which transits Ukraine, to import Ural-type crude oil, which the area’s refineries are geared to course of.

Hungary and Slovakia have been provided an additional 12 months to conform however a Slovak official informed the Monetary Instances that the nation wanted not less than two.

Diplomats mentioned Czech prime minister Petr Fiala would go to Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday to argue for an extended transition earlier than he might help the sanctions.

The sixth bundle of penalties in opposition to Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine has proved probably the most tough.

The fee can be proposing to bar European ships from transporting Russian oil and petroleum to any a part of the world, in keeping with draft proposals seen by the FT. This has confronted objections from Greece, whose fleet represents half of all EU-flagged tonnage, diplomats mentioned.

Different nations together with Cyprus have questioned a advised ban on offering company providers, together with accountancy, to Russians.

As a part of the sanctions bundle, Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, could be disconnected from the Swift worldwide banking fee system, von der Leyen informed the European parliament. Two different banks, Credit score Financial institution of Moscow and Russian Agricultural Financial institution, could be reduce from Swift, in keeping with the draft.

Sberbank Europe, Sberbank’s single largest European subsidiary, was put into liquidation by Austrian regulators after a run on buyer deposits hours earlier than the proposals had been launched.

Diplomats mentioned EU ambassadors on Wednesday struggled to make headway in a tense assembly concerning the bundle.

Russia derives extra revenue from promoting oil and oil merchandise than it does from fuel exports. The fee is searching for to tread a high quality line to keep away from driving the oil value too excessive and inadvertently producing extra revenue for President Vladimir Putin.

Brent oil climbed as a lot as 2.5 per cent on Wednesday to a excessive of $107.58 a barrel after information of the EU proposal.

With the most recent measures, “we maximise pressure on Russia, while at the same time minimising collateral damage to us and our partners around the globe”, von der Leyen mentioned in Strasbourg. “To help Ukraine, our own economy has to remain strong.”

Robert Habeck, Germany’s economic system minister, mentioned the transition part was “long enough to allow us to take all the necessary precautions to find alternatives for Russian oil in Germany”. However he warned there might be provide disruptions and better costs.

Von der Leyen additionally mentioned the EU would lengthen its ban on Russian broadcasters that it blamed for disinformation. She didn’t determine them, however the draft doc named Rossiya RTR/RTR-Planeta, Rossiya 24/Russia 24, and TV Centre Worldwide.

“They will not be allowed to distribute their content any more in the European Union, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps,” von der Leyen mentioned.

Responding to the EU transfer, Oleg Ustenko, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief financial adviser, mentioned Ukrainians had “watched in disbelief as our partners in the EU continued to purchase Russian fossil fuels, funding war crimes in our country to the tune of €1bn every day”. He added: “We now finally see action” however famous the “huge quantities” of Russian oil and fuel nonetheless being traded worldwide.

Further reporting by Marton Dunai in Budapest, Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv, Man Chazan in Berlin, Neil Hume in London and Sam Jones in Zurich

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