The way for the sixth major package of EU sanctions against Russia is finally clear. At the last second, however, Hungary of all people pushes through further changes and ensures that a prominent person is spared.
Because of Hungary’s resistance, the EU has initially decided not to impose sanctions on the Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill.
The sixth EU sanctions package, which also includes an extensive oil embargo, was approved on Thursday by representatives of the EU states without the actually planned sanctions against Kirill, as several diplomats from the German Press Agency confirmed.
According to the will of the other EU states, Kirill should be put on the EU sanctions list because of his support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. He maintains close contact with President Vladimir Putin and has so far shown himself to be very loyal to the Kremlin. In his sermons, the 75-year-old repeatedly backed the course of war and recently even claimed that Russia had never attacked another country.
Orban: “The question of freedom of belief”
However, Hungary did not want to accept the sanctions. Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently justified his position “with the question of the freedom of belief of Hungarian religious communities”. This is “sacred and inalienable”.
The boycott against oil deliveries from Russia, which is particularly relevant from an economic point of view, stipulates that no more oil will be allowed into the EU by sea in the coming year. Only Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will be allowed to import Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline until further notice because of their high level of dependence.
Von der Leyen: Around 90 percent less oil from Russia by the end of 2022
According to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU will purchase around 90 percent less oil from Russia by the end of the year, despite the exception for pipeline deliveries. According to estimates by the EU think tank Bruegel, until recently, EU countries spent around 450 million euros a day on oil from Russia and 400 million euros on gas from Russia.
Other proposed sanctions include banning Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the Swift financial communications network. In addition, several Russian news channels will be banned in the EU.