Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán denies that a European agreement in principle on a Russian oil boycott is within reach. Orbán wants his country “first solutions, then sanctions” before he says yes, he said before the start of a special EU summit on Ukraine in Brussels.
The European Union hopes to convince Hungary with a provisional exception to an intended import ban on Russian oil by limiting the boycott for the time being to oil that is shipped to the EU by sea. Hungary and other Central European countries that receive Russian oil via a pipeline overland will then remain out of reach for a while.
Orbán doesn’t think that’s enough. He wants “guarantees that if something happens to that pipeline” Hungary will be supplied with oil. The pipeline runs through Ukraine.
Germany and Poland, which also get Russian oil through the pipeline, would not claim any grace period. They can also deliver oil by tanker. The Netherlands and Belgium, among others, are following this closely, because they want to prevent the petrochemical industry in Rotterdam and Zeebrugge from being outcompeted by European rivals who can still import cheap Russian pipeline oil.
A European import ban should drain an important source of income for the Kremlin. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said he had “low expectations” for an agreement in the next 48 hours on a sixth sanctions package.