Hungary cannot support any new EU energy sanctions against Russia - govt


FILE PHOTO: A Hungarian national flag flutters outside the Hungarian parliament building at a pro-Orban rally during Hungary's National Day celebrations, which also commemorates the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against the Habsburg monarchy, in Budapest, Hungary, March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary cannot support the European Union's planned eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine if those contain energy sanctions, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.

The EU executive proposed on Wednesday fresh sanctions against Russia, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.

The proposed sanctions fall short of harder-hitting measures, including a ban on importing Russian diamonds, sought by Russia hawks Poland and the three Baltic countries.

But EU states need unanimity to impose sanctions and Orban has been a vocal critic, saying on Monday that the EU sanctions have "backfired", driving up energy prices and dealing a blow to European economies.

"Hungary has done a lot already to maintain European unity but if there are energy sanctions in the package, then we cannot and will not support it," Gergely Gulyas told a briefing.

"We are waiting for a final, full list of sanctions and then we can negotiate about it. Hungary cannot support energy sanctions."

Hungary's government is also in talks with the European Commission to secure billions of euros in EU funds blocked over rule-of-law concerns. Gulyas said he expected a deal would be signed as Budapest was ready to meet all its commitments made to the Commission.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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