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In its current shape, Hungary cannot support further EU sanctions against Russia, according to Prime Minister Orban

Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated on Friday that Hungary cannot support the European Union’s latest sanctions package in its current shape, which includes an oil import restriction.

Orban described the European Commission’s current proposal barring Russian oil imports as a “atomic bomb” placed on Hungary’s economy, adding that Hungary was willing to discuss if a fresh proposal was made that met Hungarian interests.

The European Union’s executive recommended the harshest sanctions package yet against Russia for its war in Ukraine on Wednesday, but many countries worried about the impact of cutting off Russia’s oil imports stood in the way.

Even while diplomats stated Hungary and Slovakia will be allowed until the end of 2023, a number of eastern EU members are concerned that the pause will not give them enough time to adapt.

Orban told state radio that Hungary would need five years and significant expenditures in refineries and pipelines to alter its current system, which relies on Russian oil to the tune of 65 percent.

“We know exactly what we need, first and foremost, we need 5 years to complete this process… 1-1.5 years is insufficient for anything,” Orban said, adding that Hungary would also require significant investment in refineries and the shipping system to allow non-Russian oil imports.

Orban questioned whether such large investments for a payoff in 4 to 5 years were prudent given the current conflict in Ukraine.

He stated that Hungary was awaiting the Commission’s fresh proposal.

“I don’t want to fight the EU; I want to work with them…but only if they take our interests into account.”

Orban also stated that the blacklisting of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Kremlin-aligned Russian Orthodox Church, was a “matter of religious fredom” for Hungary.

He reaffirmed Hungary’s view that no weapons should be sent to Ukraine’s neighbour since such shipments would be targeted by Russian attacks in the area beyond the border in western Ukraine, where ethnic Hungarians live.

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