The approval of the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which dragged on for almost a month and became a serious test of European solidarity for the EU member states, ended for them, if not with a happy ending, but with its appearance.
Following the results of the extraordinary summit of the heads of state and government of 27 EU countries, held in Brussels on May 30-31, its participants, after heated debate, nevertheless managed to agree on measures that formally suit everyone.
However, if the proposal to disconnect Sberbank from the SWIFT international payment system did not cause much controversy, then the oil embargo - a ban on the import of Russian oil - turned out to be a completely different story.
Born in the throes of negotiations for more than a day or two, the oil embargo against Russia came into being with a birth injury.
So, what has the EU achieved, repeating the mantra about the need to increase sanctions pressure on Russia and having already managed to collect six packages of sanctions, after which another, seventh package is promised?
Initially, it was assumed that within the framework of the sixth package, a complete ban on the import of crude oil from Russia to the EU countries would be introduced six months after its entry into force, and a ban on the import of petroleum products from 2023.
However, it was smooth on paper, but forgot about the ravines.
It was not possible to implement the maximum program of the European Commission - to introduce a complete oil embargo - because of the objections of Hungary.
The package of sanctions agreed in Brussels includes a partial oil embargo - only a ban on tanker shipments by sea.
At the same time, deliveries of Russian oil via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe will continue.
Of course, the European Commission would like to shut down this channel of energy trade as well, and in every possible way makes it clear that it will eventually get to Druzhba, but so far has no idea how to do it.
At the same time, the date of entry into force of the new restrictions has not been announced.
In addition, European tankers will continue to transport Russian oil around the world: the sanctions of the sixth package do not provide for a ban on its transportation to countries outside the European Union.
In general, upon closer examination, it turns out that although the sanctions steam did not completely go off the whistle, instead of an oil embargo on Russian oil, a kind of semi-embargo turned out, allowing all members of the “common European home” and seniors in the porches in the person of the Brussels bureaucracy to save face.
“I welcome the agreement adopted at the European Council on oil sanctions against Russia.
This will reduce oil imports from Russia by 90% by the end of the year,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
True, this figure differs markedly from the data of the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, according to whose calculations we will talk about a reduction in two-thirds of supplies.
But apparently everyone has their own opinion.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not hide his satisfaction either, who during the negotiation process did everything to make his country sway from the sanctions, fought them off with his hands and feet, and he succeeded.
Hungary will continue to receive oil through the Druzhba pipeline.
“The agreement has been reached.
Hungary is freed from the oil embargo,” Viktor Orban breathed a sigh of relief after the EU summit.
At first glance, it may seem that all the discord over the oil embargo was the result of Viktor Orban's lone demarche.
Allegedly, an enfant terrible has appeared, a pan-European dissident, a “sanctioned apostate”, who has stirred up everyone.
However, in the end, the “sanction worshipers” prevailed.
Indeed, Viktor Orban has worked hard to derail the pan-European sanctions express.
Not for the sake of Russia, but based on the interests of their country.
“We are talking about the irresponsible behavior of the European Commission.
She formulated the idea of an oil embargo without resolving the issue of Hungarian energy security.
We must first find all the solutions, and only then we can think about sanctions,” Viktor Orban attacked officials from Brussels.
According to him, the first five packages of sanctions against Russia were adopted on the principle of "sanctions first, and then we think about the consequences and look for solutions."
“Energy is serious business.
Now we need to change the approach and first think about solutions, and only then impose sanctions, ”Orban warned.
However, a closer look reveals that Orban's demarche is only the tip of the iceberg, and the painful search for a genre in the implementation of the current and future sanctions policy testifies not only to the return of the EU to the former European disunity after a short period of consolidation, but also to the loss of sanctions goal-setting.
It's about blurring the meaning of further policy of pressure on Moscow, leaving unanswered questions - why, for what all this, what have we already achieved and can we achieve?
It has not been possible and will not be possible to stop the special operation in Ukraine, the rating of President Putin continues to grow and already exceeds 80%, and the implementation of the idea of punishing Russia in the end looks more like punishment by the Europeans themselves.
An unexpected confession is made in this regard by the British newspaper The Guardian, which points out that sanctions against Russia do more harm than good.
The newspaper recalls that the measures against Russia provoked a rise in energy prices, threatening European countries with serious economic difficulties.
In the UK, about 6 million households could experience rolling blackouts this winter, and the same threatens continental Europe.
At the same time, European countries continue to pay Russia about $ 1 billion daily for gas and oil supplies, and high oil prices play into the hands of Moscow.
This, as noted by The Guardian, indicates that the EU "does not know what to do next" in relations with Russia.
“Neither the ruble fell, nor Russia felt it financially.
European citizens will pay the price for this, and Vladimir Putin will only smile with satisfaction, ”admits Croatian President Zoran Milanovic.
And when the goal is unclear, there are more and more people who want to hang back and return to elementary common sense in their national apartments.
The precedent of Hungary and a number of other Eastern European countries is indicative.
Indeed, if an indulgence is made for someone, taking into account the dire consequences of a possible oil embargo for the economy of a particular country, then why should others properly bear the sanctions burden?
Are they easy?
Who should decide, and according to what criteria, that some can buy oil, while others cannot?
And what pan-European solidarity can we talk about then?
Meanwhile, the reaction to the demarche of Hungary within the European Union turned out to be different, which is quite symbolic.
Thus, Vice Chancellor, Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection of Germany Robert Habek sees Viktor Orban as just a “bad guy” who stabs the allies in the back.
“The question is, do Viktor Orban and Hungary want to maintain European solidarity and the transatlantic partnership?
It doesn't look like it now," Robert Habeck told CNN.
In turn, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer considers it wrong for the European Commission to discuss an embargo on oil supplies from Russia if individual states have not received guarantees of compensation from the negative consequences of such a step.
According to him, the sanctions should not harm the countries of the European Union that have adopted them more than Russia itself.
“Countries that depend on Russian oil should find it particularly difficult to implement sanctions.
Then the oil embargo is wrong,” said Karl Nehammer.
In general, it is not surprising that the oil embargo turned into a semi-embargo for Europe, which is fenced off from Russia.
Sanctions are sanctions, but oil will find a crack.
The point of view of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.
The point of view of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.