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EU Appears to Be Moving Ahead on Sixth Package of Sanctions Without Hungary

The demand by the Orbán government may be met, and the European Union’s agreement on an oil embargo against Russia could give at least Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia permission to continue using the “Friendship” oil pipeline, Reuters said, citing EU sources.

The British news agency writes that the text of the draft agreement on the oil embargo has been finalized, which will be presented to the ambassadors of the member states on Sunday. It specifies that offshore oil transport will be sanctioned, but oil delivered by pipeline will be free from punitive measures for now.

Representatives of the Orbán government, most recently Gergely Gulyás at the Government Information briefing on Thursday, have repeatedly indicated that they would be willing to enter into such a bargain.

Only a quarter of the oil headed to the the European Union, Russia’s largest purchaser of crude oil, reaches the 27 member states through pipelines, according to estimates by the Brueghel Institute in Brussels.

This means that sanctions on maritime oil transport would be a major blow to revenue for Russia, which received about $1 billion a day until the end of April for its energy exports, despite having invaded Ukraine in February.

The oil embargo may be adopted as part of the sixth round of sanctions against Russia at the European Council summit on May 30-31.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly threatened to veto the sanctions, stating that the oil embargo is equal to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy, while Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has claimed that Hungarian oil refineries are specifically designed for Russian oil, and that converting them would cost €15-18 billion (US $16.1-19.3 billion). [Népszava]

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