Hungary: Paying for Russian gas in rubles does not violate EU sanctions
Hungary's Secretary of State says the Hungarian economy and the Hungarian population are 85% dependent on Russian gas.
Hungarian Secretary of State, Zoltan Kovacs, stressed Saturday that paying for Russian gas in rubles will not violate EU sanctions because Budapest and Moscow have a bilateral contract, and the payment issue is purely technical.
In a statement, Kovacs indicated that "The European Union so far has no common procurement of gas and oil for European countries. So, as we speak, we still go by and alongside those contracts we have with the Russians regarding gas and oil."
"According to those contracts, it is a technical issue in what designation we pay. So, it is not going around any kind of sanction policy," he explained.
In an interview with CNN, the Hungarian Secretary of State mentioned that "Very definitely, as we well know, the Hungarian economy and the Hungarian population is dependent 85% on Russian gas."
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told CNN on Friday that Hungary would be in breach of the sanctions regime on Russia if it pays for Russian energy in rubles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had stated that "unfriendly" countries, including all EU members, will be required to open ruble accounts in order to pay for gas deliveries beginning in April.
Russia supplies Europe with about 40% of its gas, and the old continent is so highly dependent on Russian energy that many EU member states have gone against calls and pressures calling for a total ban on the import of Russian gas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on March 23 that Russia was transferring payments for gas supplies into rubles for "unfriendly countries." He instructed the Russian Central Bank and the cabinet to determine the procedure for transactions with Europe in rubles.
EU imposes 5th tranche of sanctions on Russia
The European Union on Friday published in the Official Journal the fifth package of sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine.
Restrictive measures came into force immediately after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Individuals on the list, which include Sberbank CEO Herman Gref and businessmen Oleg Deripaska, Boris, and Igor Rotenberg, are prohibited from traveling to the EU, and Brussels froze all their assets in the bloc.
In total, the list of new personal sanctions includes 217 individuals and 18 organizations.
The sanctions the EU is imposing on Russia are over its special military operation in Ukraine, launched due to NATO's eastward expansion and the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, in addition to Moscow wanting to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine.
In response, the US and its allies rolled out comprehensive sanctions, including restrictions on the Russian central bank, export control measures, SWIFT cutoff for select banks, and closure of airspace to all Russian flights. Many of their companies have suspended their Russian operations.