Orbán threatens to block extension of EU sanctions against Russia Politico

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has threatened to veto the extension of the EU's anti-Russian sanctions, which must be renewed every six months, as he demands that four people be removed from the list.

Source: Politico citing three diplomats

Hungary is also opposing the offer — backed by all other countries — to prolong the extension period from six to 12 months, which would give Budapest fewer opportunities to torpedo the sanctions and derail EU decisions.

On Tuesday, EU ambassadors failed to strike a compromise with Hungary. Two diplomats said the EU was ready to give in to Orbán’s demands and remove four people from the sanctions list, because if Hungary continues to use its veto, all of the already-sanctioned individuals would have to be de-listed. The EU has sanctioned more than 1,400 people in relation to Russia’s war, including oligarchs, members of Russia’s parliament, military and security officials, and Russian administrators in Ukraine’s occupied territories.

One diplomat argued there are also legal concerns about whether sanctions against those four individuals would hold up in court.

But removing those four names was not enough for Hungary, the two diplomats said, because the country is also opposing the proposed 12-month renewal period. A tentative compromise that ambassadors will discuss today involves moving to nine-month renewal periods (rather than the current six months).

The media did not reveal who exactly the Hungarian prime minister wants to exempt from sanctions, but he mentioned it in his speech on February 18.

"We will be maintaining our economic relations with Russia and we advise the entire Western world to follow suit, since without relations there will be neither ceasefire nor peace talks. That is why we do not agree with the fact that priests and church leaders are included in the sanctions lists. It's bad enough that this can happen to artists and athletes," Orban said.

Background: Slovak Foreign Minister Rastislav Kačer lashed out at Orbán for his policy of playing into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Read more: Not Eternal Orbán: How To Overcome Crisis Between Ukraine and Hungary.

Journalists fight on their own frontline. Support Ukrainska Pravda or become our patron!