Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban welcomed on Tuesday the agreement of the 27 EU countries which provides an exemption for oil transported by pipeline, thus allowing his country to continue to receive cheap crude from Russia. The nationalist leader had been blocking the European embargo project for several weeks, speaking of an “atomic bomb” launched on his economy. Finally, to lift Budapest’s veto, the heads of state and government meeting at a summit in Brussels on Monday limited the stoppage of imports to Russian oil transported by boat, i.e. two thirds of European purchases.
A total embargo “would have been unbearable for us”
“Families can sleep peacefully, we have ruled out the most far-fetched idea there is,” reacted Viktor Orban in a video message posted on his Facebook page. A total embargo “would have been unbearable for us (…) but we managed to avoid it”, welcomed the nationalist leader, who had good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the invasion and has since an ambiguous position.
Hungary, a landlocked Central European country without access to the sea, depends for 65% of its oil consumption on deliveries from the Russian pipeline Druzhba. It had opposed the initial proposal for an embargo, unless it benefited from a period of at least four years to implement it and around 800 million euros in European funding to adapt the infrastructures.
90% of Russian exports to the EU stopped by the end of 2022
Berlin and Warsaw having undertaken on their side to stop their imports through the Druzhba pipeline, in total 90% of Russian oil exports to the European Union will be stopped by the end of the year, say European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The extension of the embargo to deliveries by pipeline will then be discussed “as soon as possible” without a deadline being set. This embargo on crude oil within six months and refined products within eight months, the flagship measure of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, aims to dry up the financing of the war led by Moscow in Ukraine.