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Just appalling’ Hungary wants EU money before agreeing to bloc oil ban on Russia

WorldJust appalling’ Hungary wants EU money before agreeing to bloc oil ban on Russia

Prime Minister Viktor Orban reiterated earlier statements from Hungarian officials that Hungary would not support a new round of proposed EU sanctions against Russia if they included a ban on Russian oil exports. Mr Orban said that while his government is willing to negotiate on any EU proposals that are in Hungary’s interests, the country’s geography and existing energy infrastructure make a shutdown of Russian oil unfeasible.

He said: “We cannot accept a proposal that ignores this circumstance because in its current form it is equivalent to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy.”

In his radio interview Mr Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth term last month and is widely seen as a Putin ally, voiced concern about the EU’s backlash against Russia’s actions.

On the specific energy issue, he argued that Hungary would need five years and make huge investments in its refineries and pipelines to be able to adjust to any Russian oil ban.

He said: “We know exactly what we need, first of all we need five years for this whole process to be completed… one to one-and-a-half years is not enough for anything.”

However, his decision was not welcomed by Belgian politician Guy Verhofstadt, who was the Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe from 2009 to 2019.

Mr Verhodstadt tweeted: “Orbán wants EU taxpayer’s money to agree an EU oil ban against Russia. Just appalling.

“His blackmail makes the EU dysfunctional, a gift for the murderers in the Kremlin. Time for reform, time to end unanimity in EUCO.”

Hungary sources almost 65 percent of its oil supplies, including refined products, from Russia.

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The Reuters news agency, citing three EU sources, reported on Friday that further concessions under discussion to win nation states over would include giving Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to adapt to the embargo, and help with upgrading their own oil infrastructure.

Hungary’s opposition poses a threat to the embargo as it requires the support of all 27 member states to be approved.

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