No more need for EU sanctions against Russia, negotiations are a better option: Hungary

The European Union should stop adding sanctions to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and instead push for a ceasefire and the start of negotiations, a senior Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday. .

Speaking on the sidelines of an EU leaders’ summit which granted Ukraine candidate status for EU membership, the aide said the more sanctions the EU adopts, the more they harmed the bloc, while Russia survived.

“At the end of the day, Europe will be on the losing side of this war because of economic problems. Our recommendation would be to stop the sanction process,” Balazs Orban, unrelated to the prime minister, told Reuters in an interview.

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Hungary is one of the most pro-Russian EU countries, heavily dependent on Russian gas and oil. Russia is also building a nuclear reactor for Hungary. Budapest had suspended the latest round of sanctions against Moscow, which included a ban on Russian oil imports until it negotiated an exemption for itself.

“Right now, what we are experiencing is that the more sanctions we accept, the worse off we are. And the Russians? Yes, it hurts them too, but they survive. And what is even worse, they are proceeding in Ukraine,” Balazs Orban said.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the 27 countries of the European Union have agreed on six sets of sanctions including asset freezes and visa bans for Russian oligarchs and officials, export controls, the freezing of central bank assets, the disconnection of banks. of the SWIFT messaging system and a ban on Russian coal and oil imports.

But some officials say individual oligarchs can live without some of their Western yachts or villas, have likely already moved liquid assets outside the EU, and export controls could be circumvented by China and others. .

The Russian central bank’s reserve freeze is made less painful by the billions of dollars Russia receives every day for its oil and gas that continue to flow to Europe, they say. Once the EU stops buying Russian oil next year, the crude can be sold and shipped by tankers to China or India, some officials say.

Others argue that the sanctions are working, but it will take time before their full impact on the Russian economy is seen.

Orban, however, said the EU should change tack.

“We have reached a point where we realize that we have followed the strategy for four months, we have achievements, but if it continues like this, according to a reasonable thought, it will end in the wrong direction for Europe. So we have to think about something. Negotiations, ceasefire, peace. Diplomacy. This is our solution,” Orban said.

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