Orbán waters down sanctions again

Hungary's Prime Minister Orbán has once again managed to bring about a watered-down version of the EU's sanctions against Russia. Not only did he block a complete oil embargo, now he has also succeeded in having the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, excluded from punitive measures. Commentators are appalled and ask why the EU has agreed to this compromise.

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Népszava (HU) /

Unholy Trinity

Kirill's behaviour is as unchristian as that of Viktor Orbán, Népszava rails:

“No one would have thought that Budapest would go as far as to hinder sanctions against Patriarch Kirill. Because the head of the Russian Orthodox Church makes a mockery of Christianity when he supports Putin's war, which is justified by lies. ... Kirill has formed a 'holy alliance' with a dictator, perhaps helped by his KGB past. However, the head of the Russian Church is not holy. In fact, his world view can hardly be classified as Christian. In this at least, he resembles those who defend him.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Even conservatives are shocked

Hopefully the EU is clear about who it is dropping from its sanctions package here, La Stampa fumes:

“The head of the Russian Orthodox Church is the Kremlin's staunchest ally. Not only did he approve the 'special operation' against Ukraine, he even justified it by defending the 'traditional values' so dear to both the Hungarian leader and Vladimir Putin. His statement blaming Gay Pride parades for the invasion of Ukraine went around the world, and sounded shocking even to many conservatives. With his luxury watches, his blessings of nuclear warheads and his friendships with shady politicians, the patriarch was more than controversial even before the war.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Complete unity wasn't necessary

The EU has chosen the wrong strategy, Der Tagesspiegel complains:

“In principle, any number of EU states could agree to boycott Russian oil. The main thing is that their combined share of purchases suffices to put pressure on Russia. ... Then the EU would not have to make concessions to Orbán in exchange for his yes. It could even speak confidently of the 'EU minus one' sanctions. Every time the term was mentioned publicly Orbán would be pilloried for preventing unity. In this case, 'consensus minus one' would exert more pressure than a watered-down sanctions package.”