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Orbán demands further exemptions from Russian oil sanctions

Hungary is demanding further exemptions from a Russian oil ban in case its pipeline supplies are disrupted, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Monday.

During a summit on Monday, EU leaders are set to discuss a compromise sanctions proposal that includes a carve-out for Russian oil delivered by pipeline — a key request from Budapest. But that’s not enough, said Orbán, who has been blocking the sanctions package for weeks.

The compromise is “a good solution for Hungary,” the prime minister told reporters, but Hungary will still fight for a guarantee that if “something happens” to its pipeline oil, it would retain the right to get oil via maritime and other routes. 

Under the latest plan, EU sanctions would only hit Russian oil delivered by ship, while temporarily omitting Russian oil delivered by pipeline, giving landlocked countries like Hungary more time to transition to other energy sources.

The prime minister said that “in the next round” there would have to be a discussion on the kind of investments and time Hungary will need to end its dependency on Russian oil. But he noted that the issue does not have to be addressed at the present moment.  

“We need a guarantee that in the case of an accident with the pipeline … we have to have the right to get Russian oil from other sources,” Orbán said. “If we get it, it’s fine.” 

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