Hungary urges lifting sanctions, New Zealand, UK impose new ones
Budapest opposes an EU proposal to sanction a Russian minister as part of the 10th package of sanctions against Russia.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto revealed in an interview for RIA Novosti that Hungary sought to lift EU sanctions in favor of nine Russian businessmen.
Szijjarto said, "Nine persons altogether, whom we suggested to be taken off," as he explained that they are "people who are in business life."
The FM further noted that the businessmen that Hungary sought to lift sanctions against are individuals that Budapest has "received information from certain Central Asian countries, Turkic countries" about.
Hungary was informed that these nine Russian persons "are carrying out very important investments in their countries, that they are very responsible citizens of the business community there," the Minister highlighted.
Moreover, these governments, stressed the FM during the interview, do not comprehend why they cannot collaborate with these individuals, and as such, Hungary "thought it would be more fair to take them off from the sanction list if there's no real legal reason for them to be on the list."
EU suggested sanctions against Russia's Manturov
The Hungarian FM further revealed in the interview that the EU had prepared to impose sanctions against Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov as a component of the 10th package of EU restrictions against Russia, but Hungary rejected the proposal.
"We have also raised our voice against Russian ministers to be put on the list. For example, Minister Manturov. Because if Russian ministers are on the sanctions list, then to whom we are going to talk to about peace, to whom we're going to talk to about how to end the suffering of the people," Szijjarto argued.
For Budapest, the decision to oppose the sanctioning of Russian ministers has been grounded in the rationale that "this is right" rather than a pro-Russian position, Szijjarto explained, hoping that the nation's position will "not be misunderstood."
Manturov "was supposed to be there, but we have always raised our voice, and he was taken off from the sanctions," said the FM, adding that Budapest finds it "very unfair when we are being judged as if we were propagandists of Kremlin, because we are just simply representing what we think is rational."
New Zealand targets 87 Russians with sanctions
In a related context, New Zealand's government announced a new round of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, targeting 87 Russian individuals, including military personnel and those in proximity to President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Friday.
"Today we have announced one of the largest rounds of sanctions against Russia to date, a further demonstration of Aotearoa New Zealand's strong condemnation of Russia's illegal action," Mahuta said in a statement.
The new sanctions against 87 Russian individuals target political actors "who have strategic relevance to Russia, and proximity to Putin," the statement said without providing the list of those sanctioned.
"The military personnel we have chosen to sanction have had active roles in the conflict," it added.
According to the document, the restrictions automatically extend to relatives and other related individuals of those sanctioned.
UK adds 92 more Russian individuals, entities to sanctions list
The United Kingdom expanded the list of sanctions against Russia in connection with the special operation in Ukraine, adding 92 more individuals and entities, the UK government said on Friday.
"UK sanctions on Russia top 1,500 as FCDO the [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] targets 92 individuals and entities, including those connected to Rosatom," the government said in a statement.
The list now includes, among others, senior executives at Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom and 20 executives of energy giant Gazprom and flagship carrier Aeroflot, as well as CEO of Nord Stream 2 Mattias Warnig.
London also added the head of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Maksut Shadayev, to the sanctions list for allegedly benefiting from the Russian government.
Among those targeted is Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.
"Today’s designations also target the individuals and entities at the heart of Putin’s military-industrial complex, including ... 34 executives connected to Russia’s two largest defence companies Rostec, Russia’s multibillion state owned defence conglomerate, and Almaz-Antey Corporation, a state owned Russian company specialising in producing surface to air missiles and firearms for aircrafts," the statement read.
Earlier in February, Politico cited officials and diplomats as saying that the European Union's new sanctions against Russia may target four more banks, as well as 130 individuals and entities.
Four Russian banks, including Russia's largest private bank, Alfa bank, are to be targeted with new financial sanctions.
Russian military leaders, officials appointed by Moscow in the new Russian regions, journalists working for Russian state media, such as RT, and companies and individuals in other countries with ties to the Russian special operation, namely Mali and Iran, will be on the list.
The new package could potentially include a ban on the import of rubber and bitumen from Russia, as well as the export of a number of goods to Russia, including trucks and heavy vehicles used in construction, according to Politico.
Read more: Another EU failure regarding new Russia sanctions