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EU should end sanctions on Russia says Hungarian PM’s aide

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Any further sanctions on Moscow would only hurt the EU economy without significantly impacting Russia, a senior aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Reuters on Thursday. Brussels should stop targeting Moscow with new restrictions and focus on alternative means of achieving peace in Ukraine, such as negotiations, Balazs Orbán said.

The official, who is not related to Hungary’s prime minister, was speaking on the sidelines of the EU summit that granted Ukraine candidate status. He argued that the restrictions already imposed on Russia by the bloc had failed to change Moscow’s course on Ukraine or stop its ongoing military operation. In fact, the sanctions had actually benefited Russia by driving up the prices of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the EU has witnessed fuel and food price hikes.

On June 10, Viktor Orbán said any potential gas embargo ‘will ruin the whole European economy.’ 

The EU has introduced sweeping sanctions on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine. Several rounds of sanctions have featured restrictions targeting the Russian banking and finance sectors, including a freeze on Russian central bank reserves, as well as personal restrictions on Russian officials and businessmen considered close to the Kremlin. Russian banks were also disconnected from the SWIFT messaging system.

In May, the EU also agreed on a partial embargo on Russian oil – the measure Hungary had opposed for weeks. Budapest was eventually among the nations given a waiver.

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Hungary itself has meanwhile taken a more pragmatic position on the Russian conflict with Ukraine. Opposing the use of force, it has called for negotiations instead of sanctions. In early June, Orbán said he was surprised there were so few ’voices for peace’ within the bloc, adding that war ultimately benefits no one.

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