EU state may veto new Russia sanctions – Politico

Hungary is reportedly opposed to restrictions targeting LNG imports

Hungary may veto the latest EU sanctions proposal against Moscow, Politico has reported. With the 14th set of restrictions, the bloc would target Russia’s gas sector for the first time, the outlet has said.

According to Politico, the European Commission proposed sanctions on Russia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) last week. The measures would prevent EU countries from re-exporting Russian LNG, but would fall short of introducing an outright ban on imports of the supercooled gas from the sanctioned country.

Hungary expressed “significant reservations” about the proposal, the outlet said. During initial diplomatic discussions last week, Hungary’s top envoy warned that Budapest would block any measures that would result in higher energy costs in Europe, according to Politico.

”We are going to analyze the package but do not support anything that might have a negative impact on [the] EU gas market,” the Hungarian official reportedly said.

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France, Germany, Italy, and Spain requested more technical information about the new measures, Politico noted, citing people present at the closed-door talks.

The push for sanctions on LNG is a significant shift in EU strategy, Politico said. So far, Brussels has refrained from sanctioning supplies.

Russia was once the EU’s leading supplier of pipeline gas, but after the start of the Ukraine conflict, the bloc drastically reduced imports from the country. The share of Russian pipeline gas in EU imports dropped from over 40% in 2021 to around 8% in 2023. EU member states still depend on Russia for their supplies, however. For pipeline gas and LNG combined, Russia accounted for about 15% of total EU gas imports last year, according to European Council data.

Russian LNG continues to flow to the continent mostly through ports in Spain, Belgium, and France. Some of it is then re-exported to countries such as Italy and reportedly Germany.

Hungary has been critical of restrictions on Russia and has opposed EU sanctions packages before, arguing that they hurt the EU itself more than Russia. To be passed, sanctions packages require support from all EU member states.

READ MORE: EU still needs Russian gas – energy watchdog

When reports of potential sanctions on Russian LNG first started circulating last month, Moscow said domestic producers will seek ways to overcome them.

Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said any restrictions against Russian LNG along with efforts to “squeeze” the country out of energy markets will only lead to higher gas prices for EU consumers.

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