May 05, 2022 05:31 UTC
  • Hungary opposes EU plan to ban imports of Russian oil

Hungary says it could not support a call by the European Union for a ban on Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, arguing the move would “completely destroy” its energy supply security.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen proposed a gradual ban on Russian oil imports on Wednesday, as part of a raft of new sanctions to punish Moscow over the military campaign in Ukraine.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries met in a tense gathering on Wednesday to assess the plan, which will need unanimous approval before going into effect.

If approved by member states, the oil ban would be Brussel’s toughest move yet against the Russian energy sector.

The proposal would ban Russian crude gradually over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of this year.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, however, said Budapest cannot responsibly vote for the proposal.

"This sanctions package would completely destroy the security of Hungary's energy supply," Szijjarto said in a video message posted on his Facebook page.

"The delivery of crude oil from Russia to Europe would be banned, with a short deadline, in the case of Hungary from the end of next year," Szijjarto added.

Budapest would back the proposal if crude oil delivered via pipelines was exempted from the EU's ban, he said.

The central European country imports 65 percent of its oil and 85 percent of its gas supplies from Russia, according to Hungarian government spokesman Kovacs It has long ruled out supporting any import ban on Russian oil and gas.

Hungary and Slovakia, both highly dependent on Russian oil, have been offered an extra year to meet the EU demands to enact the ban.

Citing a Slovak official, the Financial Times said the country needed at least two years to comply.

The Czech Republic, which along Slovakia, relies on the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline, also has doubts about the sanction proposal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that EU have "scored an own goal" by imposing sanctions on Moscow.