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PM Orbán Approves EU Position to Hold Russian Leaders Responsible for Waging War against Ukraine

Hungary Today 2022.03.28.

At the most recent special summit of the European Council, leaders of the EU, including Viktor Orbán, agreed in a joint conclusion that Moscow is committing war crimes and that the leaders of Russia will be held accountable for these actions. In addition, Member States have also undertaken to phase out their dependency on Russian gas, oil, and coal imports.

A two-day EU leaders summit in Brussels with the participation of the President of the United States for the very first time, came to an end on Friday. The talks mainly centered on the response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the security and defense situation in Europe, and the energy and economic issues of the member states.

Zelenskyy-Orbán Clash Over "Strategic Calm" Regarding Sanctions and Military Aid
Zelenskyy-Orbán Clash Over

Orbán rejected requests to extend sanctions to the energy sector and to send weapons, arguing that such actions would not be in line with the national interest.Continue reading

Following the summit, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shared a video on social media in which he said that despite some countries again raising the idea of extending sanctions to coal, gas, and oil, Hungary was able to prevent this.

“Some countries once more raised the issue of extending sanctions to energy[…] We gave this proposal our consideration and then rejected it, given that 85 percent of Hungary’s gas and more than 60 percent of its oil comes from Russia. Such a sanction would mean that in a matter of seconds the Hungarian economy would slow down, and then stop. This cannot be accepted: it runs counter to the interests of the Hungarian people; and indeed it would mean that in reality we would be forced to pay the price of war. Fortunately, we are not the only ones in this situation, and some other countries have put forward the same argument. Therefore, common sense has prevailed, and gas and oil will continue to flow to Hungary,” Orbán said.

PM Orbán: Common Sense Prevails in Brussels, Gas and Oil Still Flowing into Hungary
PM Orbán: Common Sense Prevails in Brussels, Gas and Oil Still Flowing into Hungary

Orbán said several countries had reiterated a proposal to broaden sanctions to include energy, coal, gas and oil, and the president of Ukraine "also made this request."Continue reading

Although in the video the Hungarian Prime Minister only highlighted the dispute regarding the energy sector, in a joint conclusion adopted at the summit by the leaders of the European member states, including Orbán himself, he took a strong stance against Russia and its political leadership.

The very first paragraph of the document states that according to the Heads of State and Government, Russia is committing war crimes. And for these crimes, Russian leaders will be held accountable.

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine grossly violates international law and is causing massive loss of life and injury to civilians. Russia is directing attacks against the civilian population and is targeting civilian objects, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools, and shelters. These war crimes must stop immediately. Those responsible, and their accomplices, will be held to account in accordance with international law,” the council’s conclusion states.

PM Orbán: Hungarian Policies Friendly Neither to Ukraine Nor to Russia, but Take Hungarian Interest as Basis
PM Orbán: Hungarian Policies Friendly Neither to Ukraine Nor to Russia, but Take Hungarian Interest as Basis

Orbán said Ukraine has an interest in involving "as many countries as possible" in the war, "so we must absolutely make clear that we will not take part in the war".Continue reading

The text also contains an important commitment regarding Russian energy sources:

“The European Union will phase out its dependency on Russian gas, oil, and coal imports as soon as possible, as set out in the Versailles Declaration.”

Furthermore, the conclusions of the European Council called on Moscow to allow humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians, as well as access to humanitarian aid and the release of hostages.

According to EU leaders, sanctions already in place are capable of effectively thwarting Russia’s ability to continue its aggression against Ukraine, but there is a need for widespread compliance.

The Council Conclusions are legal documents that express political commitments or positions, but are not legally binding. This way, even though the documents mirror a clear stance regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what policies it will put into practice remains a question.

Featured photo by Zoltán Fischer/MTI

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