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Orbán: Oil sanctions plan is ‘nuclear bomb’ for Hungarian economy

The EU’s new sanctions plan amounts to “a nuclear bomb” for Hungary’s economy, the country’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday.

With its proposed phaseout of Russian oil, the European Commission is attempting to impose a single rule on all 27 member countries, Orbán told local radio station Telex. That would pose a threat to the Hungarian economy because it ignores the local context, he said.

Under the most recent sanctions draft, which still has to be approved by all member countries, EU nations would have to phase out Russian oil by the end of the year. Hungary and Slovakia would get one extra year to do so.

Orbán told the radio station he wants a five-year delay for his country, arguing that the Commission hasn’t taken into account that landlocked Hungary receives oil exclusively via pipelines, making it more difficult to replace Russian oil.

While not directly threatening a veto against the package, he said Budapest wouldn’t approve the plans “until the Hungarian issue is resolved.”

The comments come as EU ambassadors gather today in Brussels to negotiate the sanctions package. Granting a longer phaseout period before the oil embargo kicks in would be a bitter pill to swallow for many countries that argue the timeline is already too long.

EU diplomats expect a long night of talks that could drag into Saturday.

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