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EU admits defeat: Orban forces bloc to give up Putin oil ban – 'Sending bad signal'

NewsEU admits defeat: Orban forces bloc to give up Putin oil ban - 'Sending bad signal'

It has been nine days since European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to completely ban all Russian oil imports. However, these plans have been scuppered by Hungary, which has fiercely resisted any attempt to sanction Russian oil. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has described a complete oil ban as a “nuclear bomb” and, given that all 27 member states need to support the sanctions for it to pass, the bloc cannot move forward.

Mr Orban said that, while Budapest is willing to negotiate on any EU proposals in Hungary’s interests, the country’s geography and existing energy infrastructure make a shutdown of Russian oil unfeasible.

Hungary, being completely landlocked, is heavily dependent on Russian energy, accounting for 85 percent of its natural gas and more than 60 percent of its oil.

Now, it seems like Mr Orban has got his way, as POLITICO reports senior EU diplomats are considering pausing plans on a complete oil ban, and focusing on parts of the sanctions list that Hungary could agree to.

An end of Russian oil imports would be a hammer blow to Vladimir Putin’s regime, as Russia’s economy is largely propped up on revenues from fossil fuel exports.

Europe’s heavy dependence on Russian oil and gas has made it slow to take action against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Experts agree that Russia’s brutal invasion has been largely bankrolled by its revenues from energy exports like oil, natural gas and coal.

One EU diplomat said: “There is indeed an idea floating to split up the package as we’re agreed on 90 percent of it, so moving forward with everything but the oil ban.

“It’s frustrating that we can’t move forward with the things that are agreed on.

READ MORE: EU facing mass revolt as several members blow top over Hungary

Another EU diplomat admitted it would be better to return to the oil ban at a later stage as it would be better to agree on 90 percent of the proposed oil ban than none at all.

Last month, all 27 EU governments agreed to block the import of Russian coal and other solid fossil fuels from August.

This move was easier to achieve because coal is the smallest of Russia’s fossil fuel exports.

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