Hungary has asked to exempt the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, from the latest round of sanctions against Russia, just two days after EU leaders approved the plans, three diplomats told POLITICO.
EU ambassadors met Wednesday afternoon to look at the legal text of the sixth package of sanctions, which includes a ban on Russian oil imports, after leaders struck a deal on Monday night. The outline deal included a major concession to Hungary, with a temporary exemption for crude oil supplied by pipeline.
While leaders congratulated themselves on getting an agreement after weeks of deadlock, the detailed talks over the legal text among ambassadors have now hit a hitch. In Wednesday’s meeting, Hungary objected to the proposal to sanction the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a longtime ally of Putin.
The Hungarian demand came as a surprise. EU diplomats had expected agreement to be reached on the package, which was presented by the European Commission on May 4. EU ambassadors will continue the discussions on the legal text of the sanctions this week.