Hungary blocks EU sanctions package against Russia again, this time because of China

February 15. 2024. – 12:12 PM



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Hungary is once again blocking the European Union's current sanctions package against Russia, but this time because of the Chinese companies which are also included, according to the Financial Times. As the second anniversary of the beginning of the war approaches, the 13th sanctions package would complement the €50 billion aid package for Ukraine and the freezing of profits from Russian assets.

Member state ambassadors met on Wednesday and once again, Hungary was the only country to oppose the sanctions. The new package would have targeted 200 individuals from Russia, China and other countries who are aiding Moscow's offensive against Ukraine.

"The Hungarians disagreed on account of the Chinese companies"

– an unnamed official told the newspaper. The Financial Times notes that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has regularly sought to slow or derail anti-Russian sanctions. Another official described the meeting as a "fruitful exchange of views", adding that some of the points raised still needed to be analyzed. Neither the Hungarian ambassador to the EU nor his spokesperson were available for comment.

The current package of sanctions also affects three Chinese companies and an Indian one, which is new territory. A similar move was blocked by several member states last year. The dialogue is going to continue, with a ministerial-level meeting scheduled for next week and the hope is that the package could be adopted by next Wednesday. The objective is to have a decision in time for the anniversary of the Russian invasion on Ukraine on 24 February.

In relation to a previous sanctions plan, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó had already pointed out that if the EU were to introduce punitive measures against Chinese companies, it would "certainly aggravate, and perhaps even make relations with the country impossible" and could lead to reactions that could generate a negative spiral.

At the meeting, the ambassadors also agreed on the legal text of the €50 billion aid to Ukraine, which means that it is ready to be presented to the European Parliament for approval (this was the issue on which the Hungarian Prime Minister dropped his veto two weeks ago). If it is adopted, the first payment may be sent to Kyiv as soon as next month.

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