uAccording to EU diplomats, Hungary is threatening to block the extension of sanctions against Russia. As several officials from the German Press Agency reported on Tuesday, the country wants to use this action to force the punitive measures against three Russian oligarchs to be lifted. Specifically, these are Alisher Usmanov, Pyotr Aven and Viktor Rashnikov.
Usmanov and Aven are counted by the EU among the oligarchs with particularly close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Usmanov reportedly served as a front for Putin and solved his business problems, according to the sanctions decision taken by the EU on February 28 over Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. In Germany, Usmanow is known, among other things, as the owner of a villa on Lake Tegernsee and as a former president of the Fencing World Federation FIE.
Sanctions not sufficiently justified?
According to the sanctions decision, Awen is one of around 50 very wealthy Russian businessmen who regularly meet with Putin in the Kremlin. The major shareholder of the Alfa Group, which includes Alfa Bank, does not act independently of the President’s requirements.
Rashnikov is described in an EU sanctions decision on March 15 as a leading Russian oligarch and the owner and CEO of the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works (MMK) company. He is active in areas of the economy that serve as an important source of income for the Russian government.
Hungarian representatives at the EU initially gave no public explanations for the demands on Tuesday. Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said in Budapest in the evening that there were concerns from time to time that the admission of certain people was not sufficiently justified.
Sanctions must be extended
EU diplomats pointed out that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban still maintains a very good relationship with Putin and has torpedoed punitive measures several times in recent months. Because of Hungary’s resistance, the EU had to forego planned sanctions against the Russian Orthodox Church leader, Patriarch Kirill, and a complete oil embargo.
The oligarchs Usmanov, Aven and Rashnikov are among more than 1,200 people against whom the European Union has imposed sanctions for supporting Russian President Putin’s Ukraine policy. The punitive measures envisage freezing the assets of those affected and preventing them from entering the EU. The sanctions must be extended until Thursday next week if they are not to expire. According to diplomats, a decision at EU level should actually be adopted this Wednesday. Further negotiations are now necessary. Hungarian government spokesman Kovacs pointed out that a unanimous decision is needed.