The European Union’s ban on Russian oil is in jeopardy Friday after Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected proposals as too costly and too swift for the country to implement, marking a potentially lethal blow to the bloc’s plans to wean itself off Russian energy as diplomatic wrangling drags on over its toughest sanctions against Moscow yet.
Orban, an ally to Putin who was reelected for a fourth term as prime minister in April, told Hungarian state radio on Friday that Hungary could not support proposed EU sanctions against Russia in their current form, according to multiple news reports,
Plans to ban Russian oil are far too costly and would amount to an “atomic bomb” being dropped on the Hungarian economy, he said.
Hungary would need at least five years and massive investment on infrastructure in order to manage without Russian oil, Orban said.
He said he is willing to negotiate a sanctions proposal that meets Hungary’s interests and is waiting on a new proposal from the European Commission.
While Orban’s objections are not surprising—Hungary is heavily dependent on Russian oil and has consistently shot down proposed energy sanctions against Moscow since it invaded Ukraine in February—they are a major obstacle for finalizing the bloc’s latest round of sanctions, which require unanimity from all 27 member states.