Slovakia's Controversial Support for Lifting Sanctions on Russian Oligarchs

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.16 - 2024 12:40 PM CET

Slovakia's Controversial Support for Lifting Sanctions on Russian Oligarchs.

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Slovakia has been reported to back Hungary's motion to lift European Union sanctions on several Russian individuals, including the notable Russian-Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, known for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This development emerged from a meeting of EU foreign ministers held in February, as reported by Aktuality, referencing diplomatic sources.

Diplomatic Maneuverings Revealed

The push to lift sanctions against Usmanov was reportedly a key discussion point during a December 2023 meeting between Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár and their Hungarian counterparts in Budapest.

Slovakia, seeking Hungary's support to remove businessman Jozef Hambálek from the EU's sanctions list due to his associations with the pro-Putin Night Wolves biker group, found itself entangled in a reciprocal diplomatic request.

A Trade of Favors

Hungary's request for Slovakia's backing in lifting sanctions on other Russians, including Arkady Volozh, the founder of Yandex, Sergei Mndoiants, a Kremlin advisor, as well as high-profile figures such as Usmanov, Formula-1 racer Nikita Mazepin, and billionaire Viatcheslav Kantor, was reportedly accepted by Bratislava.

Mixed Outcomes Amid EU Concerns

While the efforts to delist Volozh and Mndoiants alongside Hambálek from the sanctions roster proved successful, the EU's collective stance on Usmanov, Mazepin, and Kantor remained firm, with sanctions against these individuals upheld amid significant concerns within the Union.

This episode underscores the complex interplay of national interests and diplomatic bargaining within the EU, particularly in relation to its stance on Russia and individuals closely associated with the Putin administration.

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