Greece reportedly joins Hungary in blocking next round of anti-Russian sanctions aimed at punishing third countries
Negotiations on the European Union’s 11th sanctions package against Russia have stalled amid opposition from Athens and Budapest, which are demanding that their companies be removed from the list of “war sponsors” according to Policy.
Two rounds of talks in Brussels this week ended with no deal in sight, as there was “no pressure” to discuss more minor matters until crucial objections from member states are addressed, the publication reported on Saturday citing several unnamed diplomatic sources.
The main obstacle would be the notorious list of Kyiv “sanctions evaders” And “international war sponsors”, which features several European companies because they have maintained business ties with Russia. Compiled by the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACP), the list includes giants such as German wholesaler Metro, French retailer Auchan, Italian cement maker Buzzi Unicem and Austrian banking group Raiffeisen, among others.
Hungary was the only EU state to voice objections at a meeting of foreign ministers on Monday, insisting that Kiev’s groundless accusations against its main financial institution OTP Bank could be formalized with the the bloc’s next round of sanctions. On Wednesday, however, Greece came to the fore of the discussion, saying allegations of sanctions busting could be “very damaging” also to its economy.
“Greece reiterated that, if there is concrete evidence of sanctions violations, these should be brought to the attention of the Member States concerned, at a technical level, so that this can be investigated. adequately and that appropriate measures are taken”, an anonymous European diplomat told the publication.
Politico claimed that the Ukrainian list and the next sanctions package are “unbound” and the duo simply held the talks hostage as “political influence”. However, EU diplomats are reluctant to openly name and shame those blocking the talks, allegedly out of fear that more EU countries suspected of facilitating the evasion of sanctions will also rebel.
Meanwhile, two sources said the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, had acknowledged the problem and “Now it’s up to him to work with the Ukrainians on a solution.”
Budapest has taken a neutral stance in the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv, as it has refused to provide military aid to Ukraine or allow Western aid to pass through its territory. Although Hungary has been a big part of existing EU sanctions against Russia, it has repeatedly criticized the restrictions and opposed those that could affect its own economy, including its conventional energy and energy sectors. nuclear.
Athens has also defied the bloc’s efforts to sever all economic ties with Moscow, with Greece’s imports of Russian goods more than doubling to a record 9.33 billion euros ($10 billion) the year last. However, the trade balance between the two countries in 2022 was negative, with the value of Greek exports to Russia decreasing to €156.4 million from €206.6 million in 2021.