Aide to Hungarian Prime Minister: EU Must End Sanctions on Russia

Aide to Hungarian Prime Minister: EU Must End Sanctions on Russia
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Budapest - Further sanctions against Moscow will only hurt the European Union (EU) economy without significant impact on Russia. The assessment was expressed by a senior aide to Hungarian Prime Minister (PM) Viktor Orban, Balazs Orban, to Reuters. Brussels should stop targeting Russia with new restrictions and focus on alternative ways to achieve peace in Ukraine, such as negotiations," Balazs Orban said.

The official, who is not linked to Hungary's prime minister, was speaking on the sidelines of a European Union summit that awarded Ukraine candidate status. He argues the restrictions that have been imposed on Russia by the EU have failed to change Moscow's course in Ukraine or halt its ongoing military operations.

Meanwhile, the European Union has witnessed rising fuel and food prices. “In the end, Europe will be on the losing side in this war because of economic problems. Our recommendation is that we have to stop the sanctions process," Orban said.

Today, what we experience is that the more sanctions we receive, the worse our condition will be. And Russia? Yes, it hurts them too, but they endure. And what's worse, they continue in Ukraine." The strategy the EU has pursued over the past four months has yielded little fruit, the aide argued.

He added, "If it continues like this, according to common sense, it will end in a bad way for Europe." According to him, the EU should rethink its strategy and focus on diplomatic means instead. “We have to think of something. Negotiations, truces, peace. Diplomacy. That's our solution," he said.

Hungary, which relies heavily on Russian energy and has one of the closest ties to Moscow of any EU member state, has repeatedly warned of the potentially grim consequences of anti-Russian sanctions for the bloc. On June 10, Viktor Orban said a potential gas embargo "would damage the entire European economy."

The European Union has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia over its military operations in Ukraine. Several rounds of sanctions have featured restrictions targeting Russia's banking and financial sector, including freezing Russia's central bank reserves, as well as personal restrictions on Russian officials and businessmen deemed close to the Kremlin.

Banks of Russia are also cut off from the SWIFT messaging system. In May, the EU also agreed to a partial embargo on Russian oil, a move Hungary has opposed for weeks. Budapest was finally among the countries granted a waiver of the sanctions.

Hungary itself has taken a more nuanced stance on Russia's conflict with Ukraine. While opposing the use of force, they call for negotiations instead of sanctions. In early June, Orban said he was surprised there were so few “votes for peace” within the bloc. He added the war in the end did not benefit anyone.

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