The European Union foreign policy chief says banning Russian gas imports is not possible due to Hungary’s veto
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has announced that introducing a member-wide ban on Russian gas imports has been ruled out because it would not be able to pass a unanimous vote due to Hungary’s position.
“A unanimous decision cannot be taken because there is one country, Hungary, which has said it will veto it,”The politician spoke in interview to Spanish newspaper COPE.
At the same time, Borrell seemed to acknowledge Budapest’s position, saying, “Giving up what you don’t have is easy,”Add to that, countries who are more dependent on Russian gas imports are currently in difficult situations.
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, who recently won the re-election, said last week that Russian gas is his country’s only option, as the country is landlocked and wouldn’t be able to directly receive liquified gas from the US.
“It’s not about putting on a sweater at night, or turning down the heating a little or paying a bit more for gas, it’s about the fact that if there is no energy coming from Russia, Hungary will be left with no energy at all,”Orban.
Borell said that it was important for EU countries to become less dependent upon Russian energy. He argued, however, that Russia’s purchase of gas from Russia is not a great idea. “financing the war.” He did, however, admit that it’s impossible to cut a 55% dependence on Russian gas overnight, referring to the situation in Germany, where the Federation of German Industries President Siegfried Russwurm said on Thursday that the German industry would “collapse”If it was cut off from Russian gaz.
Borrell, however, insists Europe should reduce its dependence on Russia’s oil and gas. Borrell suggests that oil be used as a starting point because it is simpler and has more. Russia supplies approximately 40% of the EU’s gas and about a third (or more) of its oil.
Lithuania was the first EU member to stop all Russian gas purchases on Saturday. Meanwhile, Poland announced that it will do its best to eliminate Russian oil and gas imports from the country by 2022.
Later in the interview, Borrell also marked the difficult situation the EU has found itself in, saying that, on the one hand, they want to help Ukraine, but on the other hand, they don’t want to intervene in the conflict and cause escalation, arguing that the EU is not a military alliance.
Also, he noted the resilience of the Russian ruble to international sanctions. “The ruble has shown a strong resistance capacity. Putin is insisting that gas be paid in rubles by Russians to preserve the currency. We’ll see what happens.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last Thursday’s decree that states that had placed sanctions against Moscow must pay with rubles for Russian gas starting in April 1. The Kremlin has warned that refusing to do so would mean the end of gas supplies, which it won’t be giving away “free of charge.” Moscow insists that it was left with no choice but to switch to its national currency, as dollars and euros could be “taken away.”
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