EU Commission chief is “confident” that new sanctions package will pass

Clare Sebastian and Amy Cassidy in London

‎European union  President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday she is “confident” the bloc’s sixth package of sanctions against Russia will pass, as deliberations among member states continue into the third day.

“I am confident that we will get this package off the ground,” she said in a speech in Frankfurt, Germany. “If it takes one more day, then it takes one more day, but we are moving in the right direction.”

Mobilization of the package has hit some roadblocks this week, with some countries resisting the proposed embargo on Russian oil imports due to their energy dependency, sparking fears they would veto the move unless granted exemption.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, speaking on Hungarian radio Friday, compared the sanctions proposal to an “atomic bomb” and said he sent it to back to von der Leyen for amendments. His comments were carried in an online post from the Hungarian government’s communications office.

Meanwhile, negotiations are “going in the right direction” for the Czech Republic, government spokesperson Václav Smolka told CNN on Friday. The country is seeking an exemption from the embargo as it needs two more years to wean itself off Russian oil, he said.

Von der Leyen referenced Germany, which at the beginning of the conflict was resistant to an oil embargo, she said, but has since cut down its imports from Russia to 12% from 35%.

“The countries that are now hesitating are not as far along,” she said. “We are sitting, as I speak, with these countries in Brussels, to work through very pragmatic things, like from where can alternative oil be brought into these countries.”

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