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Hungary can avoid new EU sanctions

THE Reuters Poland this month proposed a new package of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, including a ban on pipeline oil and diamond imports, but would also impose restrictions on Rosatom, according to a government document obtained on Tuesday by The written proposal, which a diplomatic source said was handed over to the EU’s executive European Commission, could determine further sanctions negotiations between the 27 countries.

In order to introduce new sanctions, everyone must agree. The bloc has already introduced ten rounds of punitive measures against Russia since Moscow fully invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Hungary, which has regularly vetoed sanctions negotiations so far, is expected to protest now as well.

EU leader Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said earlier that an 11th package would focus on combating the circumvention of existing restrictions, particularly on the export of parts and equipment used by Russia on the battlefield against Ukraine. This would be important because it is forbidden to transport most technological devices from Western countries to Russia, but neighboring countries – such as Georgia, Kazakhstan, and even Turkey – have previously circumvented this measure by acting as mediators in the deals.

Warsaw’s proposal would stop Russian crude oil imports to Germany through the northern section of the Drusba (aka Friendship) crude oil pipeline. It would end Russian diamond and natural gas imports, including LNG, and limit nuclear energy cooperation.

Both Germany and Lithuania support the nuclear energy sanctions, both countries previously announced that they would propose this package of measures to the EU. However, existing cooperation agreements would be exempted, so Hungary and France could continue trading with Russia, but they would no longer be able to conclude a new agreement.

Hungary, which announced last week that it had agreed to amend its contract with Russia’s Rosatom on the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant,

until now, he has strongly opposed sanctions related to Russian nuclear energy.

In the same way, it is expected that they will be able to use a veto in the case of the Friendship oil pipeline, if it also applies to Hungarian shipments, which have been exempted for the time being until 2024.

Belgium, home to Antwerp, the world’s largest diamond trading center, has so far successfully lobbied against a ban on Russian gem imports.

Poland’s harshness is also partly explained by the fact that, together with Hungary and Slovakia, it put Ukrainian grain exports on the banned list, as cheaper crops harm domestic producers. The Polish government, which is preparing for the election, must now also make a gesture towards Kiev that it supports strict punitive measures against Russia, and it must also indicate to domestic voters that it stands by the support of Ukraine.

Cover photo: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Source: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images