EU diplomats are mulling a radical option to bypass Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's reluctance to support a ban on Russian oil imports - suspend the plan.
According to Politico, the idea is that other elements of the EU's sixth package of sanctions against Russia will move forward with the support of all 27 member states. But a complete ban on all imports of Russian oil and oil products could be delayed while work continues on a compromise deal that Hungary can accept, EU diplomats said.
Such a delay would be a serious setback to the EU's efforts. In particular, it would be a blow to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who on 4 May proposed a complete ban on all Russian oil imports as part of the sixth sanctions package.
The fact that diplomats are considering such a dramatic move shows how difficult it is for the EU to escalate its economic offensive against the Kremlin and how painful it is to abandon Russian energy resources
For landlocked countries such as Hungary and Slovakia, which rely heavily on pipeline supplies of Russian oil, a ban on crude oil would be painful. The EC has tried to reach a compromise with Orban, but so far his government says it needs more time and possibly more money.