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Europe’s Russian Oil Embargo

by Carl Steward
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oilEurope’s Russian Oil Embargo

The European Union is battling to pass a sixth round of sanctions against Russia. A few countries object to an oil embargo.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has proposed a six-month phase-out period from Russian oil as part of broader steps to undermine President Vladimir Putin’s administration. Hungary and Slovakia, two EU countries that rely heavily on Russian energy, have time until 2023 to comply with the new requirements. However, this long term was insufficient, and both countries wanted more.

The EU cannot approve the more extensive package of penalties due to the deadlock.

Hungary has been the EU’s most outspoken opponent of the oil embargo. According to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a longstanding Putin ally, ending Russian oil supplies would be an “atomic bomb” on Hungary’s economy.

Budapest is also a customer of Russian natural gas, with imports from Moscow increasing in recent years. According to Eurostat, Hungary’s imports of Russian natural gas have climbed from 9.070 million cubic meters in 2010 to 17.715 million cubic meters in 2019.

Orban had previously supported EU sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine; although, Orban has developed strong economic links with Russia over the previous decade; moreover, he has frequently boasted about his tight relationship with Putin.

They had intimate ties, for example, during the coronavirus epidemic. Hungary became the first EU country to purchase a Russian-made Covid vaccination, despite European regulators not approving it.

One EU official, who did not want to be identified owing to the sensitive nature of the negotiations, called Hungary’s “stubbornness” a “sad thing.”

The EU became even more dependent on that commodity.

Meanwhile, the G-7 announced its intention to reduce reliance on Russian energy on Sunday. The US went so far as to propose penalties against Gazprombank executives and other Russian enterprises.

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