Hungary snubs EU politics
In order to get Hungary’s approval for the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, the other member states of the European Union agreed on Thursday afternoon not to impose sanctions on the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the 26 other governments, Cyril I is “one of the most prominent supporters” of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and should be banned from entering the EU. In addition, any existing bank accounts of Kyrill should be blocked.
After leaders at the EU summit earlier in the week reached a “political agreement” on the next measures against Russia, Hungary vetoed at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday, much to the annoyance of its partners, and the removal of Made Kyrill’s name a condition. The sanctions will come into effect as soon as the legal texts adopted by the ambassadors on Thursday are published in the EU’s Official Journal.
By the end of the year, it will be banned from importing Russian oil into the EU in tankers, stopping 90 percent of Russian oil imports. In addition, the largest Russian financial institution, Sberbank, as well as two other financial institutions, will be decoupled from the Swift global transfer system. The displeasure with the behavior of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who showed close ties to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin before the start of the war, is also so great because he received exceptions to the oil embargo: his country, like the Czech Republic and Slovakia will continue to be supplied via the “Druschba” pipeline. An EU diplomat told SZ: “Hungary has gambled away the last sympathies of its former friends in Eastern Europe.”
Meanwhile, Putin is trying to portray Russia as a responsible state through diplomatic channels. This Friday he meets Macky Sall, head of the African Union and President of Senegal, in Sochi to discuss grain and fertilizer from Russia for African countries. Because of the war and the blocked ports, Ukraine cannot export grain, and Russia is deliberately holding back its exports. Both countries are among the largest grain producers in the world. In many African countries and other regions, there is a risk of famine due to rising prices and simultaneous droughts.
The negotiations are taking place at Putin’s invitation, and it may well be that Russia will make serious efforts to avert famine. But this is not only in the interest of the Kremlin for humanitarian reasons. Moscow has been trying for years to gain political and economic influence in Africa and could use the food crisis it created itself to achieve these goals.
In Ukraine, meanwhile, the fighting is increasing in intensity again. The city of Seyerodonetsk is largely occupied by the Russian army. Russia would thus control almost the entire Luhansk region. Attacks with cruise missiles and airstrikes are also being reported again from Lviv, Odessa and other parts of the country. The west of Ukraine was recently considered comparatively safe.