Hungary puts 15bn-euro price on cutting off Russian oil
Hungary said Monday it would cost 15 to 18 billion euros ($16 to $19 billion) to prepare its economy to drop Russian oil under a proposed new EU sanctions package against Moscow.
“It is legitimate for Hungarians to expect a proposal” from the European Commission to cushion that blow, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in comments broadcast on his Facebook page.
“A complete modernisation of the Hungarian energy infrastructure is needed to the scale of 15 to 18 billion euros” if Hungary were to halt Russian oil imports, said Szijjarto, who was attending an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
On May 4, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen announced her European Commission was proposing “a complete import ban on all Russian oil” into the 27-nation bloc as part of a sixth round of sanctions against Moscow for invading Ukraine.
But Hungary, which is highly dependent on Russian crude and whose leader Viktor Orban maintains good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has held up the measure.
Other EU countries have expressed increasing frustration with Budapest, and some also questioned EU rules that require unanimity for sanctions decisions.
“We must overcome the unanimity rule which today allows only one country to block any decision that all the others agree on,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said last week that he expected the foreign ministers’ meeting to “provide the political impetus” to break the stalemate over sanctioning Russian oil.
The proposed sixth round of sanctions also builds upon the previous rounds to add more names to the EU’s blacklist of Russian individuals in Putin’s inner circle.
It would also ban more Russian media outlets deemed Kremlin propaganda organs from broadcasting in the European Union.