VILNIUS – The ongoing negotiations on a new sanction package for Russia are stalling due to Hungary's opposition to a proposed energy import embargo, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says, adding that helping Ukraine to secure energy independence could help resolve the issue.
"Helping Ukraine to give up Russian oil and gas would be one of the solutions because we know that the country that cannot help to find a consensus is dependent on transit from Ukraine, and if this transit stops, the issue of sanctions would also be resolved," Landsbergis said on Monday, having arrived to Brussels to attend a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
In his words, the EU would be remembered in this situation either as a union that was able to move forward and send a "very clear message to Russia" or as a union that got stuck.
"Unfortunately, the whole union is now being held hostage by one country that cannot help us find a consensus", the foreign minister pointed out.
The European Union has been discussing ways to suspend imports of the Kremlin's natural resources for some time now but several EU member states heavily dependent on Russian fossil fuels are resisting.
A few weeks ago, the European Commission drafted a sixth package of sanctions for Russia, aimed at further punishing Moscow over the war in Ukraine. Several EU member states, most notably Hungary, are opposed to the plans to give up Russian oil by the end of this year.
Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have been offered the possibility to continue importing Russian oil until the end of 2024, but Budapest is seeking a five-year transition period for the phase-out and needs a new pipeline to Croatia for oil supplies via its ports, as well as guarantees for the project's funding.