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EU ministers urge Hungary to sign up to planned Russian oil embargo

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EU foreign ministers sought to publicly pressure Hungary on Monday to lift its veto of a proposed oil embargo on Russia, with Lithuania saying the bloc was being “held hostage by one member state”, according to Reuters.

The ban on crude imports proposed by the European Commission in early May would be its harshest sanction yet in response to Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine and includes carve-outs for EU states most dependent on Russian oil.

Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy and a major buyer of Russian energy, said it wanted a deal to authorize the oil embargo, which it suggested could last for years.

“I am confident that we will find agreement in the coming days,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she arrived for a meeting with her counterparts. “We need to prepare it extremely well because it needs to be sustainable.”

But Hungary, Moscow’s closest ally in the EU, has said it wants hundreds of millions of euros from the bloc to mitigate the cost of ditching Russian crude. The EU needs all 27 states to agree to the embargo for it to go ahead.

“The whole union is being held hostage by one member state … we have to agree, we cannot be held hostage,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

Few ministers called Hungary out by name as they spoke to reporters, but Romania said it was up to the bloc to bring Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government around.