Hungary’s Viktor Orban Says EU proposed ban on Russian Oil Imports Crosses ‘Red Line’

Victor Orban during the debate on the political situation in Hungary, by European Parliament (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban, has announced Hungary cannot support the EU’s newly proposed sanction package against Russia, saying proposals for an EU wide embargo on Russian oil imports cross a ‘red line’, and would amount to an ‘atomic bomb’ being dropped on the Hungarian economy.

Speaking to state radio on Friday, Orban said that “the European Commission President, intentionally or unintentionally, has attacked the European unity that had been worked out”.

His comments come in response to the EU executive’s proposal on Wednesday, to take its toughest stance against Russia’s military action in Ukraine, by imposing  a bloc wide ban on Russian oil imports.

Commission President, Ursula Von de Leyen, said the bloc would “phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months, and refined products by the end of the year”.

Orban highlighted that Hungary, which depends on Russian oil for 65% of its supply, would need at least 5 years and massive investments in pipelines, refineries, and alternative shipping systems in order to undergo such a transformation.

Orban also made clear that he was ready to negotiate if he sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests, adding “I don’t want to confront the EU but to cooperate….but this is only possible if they take our interests into account.”

In addition to rejecting financial sanctions being proposed, Orban has also refused to support the EU’s move to blacklist the head of Kremlin-allied Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, stating it to be an attack on religious freedom.

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