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Sanctions on Russia and Europe’s future

June 13th, 2022

Commentators across the political spectrum ponder the broader implications of EU sanctions on the future of Europe.

Magyar Hírlap’s Péter G. Fehér thinks that it would be “self-destructive” for the EU to assemble a seventh package of sanctions on Russia. The pro-government columnist recalls that the EU could barely broker a deal on the Russian oil embargo, and any further sanction proposals would jeopardize the unity of the Union. Fehér suggests that the EU leadership wants to take advantage of the war in Ukraine to create an even more centralized, empire-like Union. He contends, however, that sanctions on Russia backfire as they harm the European economy more than Russia.

Magyar Demokrata editor-in-chief András Bencsik in his regular first page editorial likens the EU strategy to Cold War tactics of the Soviet Union, to divide and wear down their ideological enemies, bit by bit. He suspects that the EU plan to sanction Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church vetoed by Prime Minister Orbán would have been interpreted by Russians as a frontal attack by the EU on their religion. Bencsik goes so far as to claim that sanctioning Patriarch Krill “would have ignited brutal religious persecution” not only of Russian Orthodox believers, but also have resulted in the targeting of every Christian in general. Prime Minister Orbán’s insistence that the sanctions against Patriarch Kirill be axed was therefore an act in defence of religious freedom, Bencsik suggests. It also pre-empted a potential “spiritual war” between “ the Godless West and the religious East”, he concludes.

On Portfolio, József Hornyák claims that the economic sanctions on Russia serve the long-term security of Europe. The economic analyst acknowledges that sanctions are very costly for the EU too, but they are in his view the only means the EU can rely on to prevent Russian President Putin from starting another world war and  “leading Europe back to the darkest period of the 20th century”. He adds that sanctions will make an impact only in the long run, and therefore it is crucial that the US and Europe send weapons to Ukraine to halt Putin’s expansionist agenda. If Putin occupies Ukraine, Central Europe and Hungary would become the next potential target of Russia, and therefore the sanctions on Russia serve Hungary’s security, Hornyák concludes.

In Azonnali, Dániel Gyenge also sees sanctions as the best means to stop Putin from “restoring the Soviet Union and incorporating Central European countries in Russia’s sphere of influence”. Gyenge also thinks that it is a moral obligation for the “civilized West”  to stop doing business with a “despotic country committing genocide”.

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