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Belgium becomes first EU nation to abstain during vote on anti-Russian sanctions — paper

According to the Le Monde newspaper, Brussels insisted on the exclusion of the Russian diamond mining company Alrosa from the new package of restrictions

PARIS, October 14. /TASS/. Belgium became the first European Union country to abstain during the recent vote on the eighth package of anti-Russian sanctions, Le Monde reported.

"For the first time ever, there was one country - in this case, Belgium - that abstained from the vote. Although this decision created no threat for the process, it sent a signal," the paper wrote.

During the discussions on new anti-Russian restrictions, Belgium was granted a two-year deferral regarding a ban on imports of certain types of Russian steel. Without Russian supplies, a number of Belgian metallurgical plants could go bankrupt, leaving some 1,200 workers unemployed.

Also, according to media reports, Belgium insisted on excluding Russian diamond miner Alrosa from the new package of sanctions.

The paper reported that although difficult negotiations already took place in the past, in particular when Hungary and Slovakia secured exemptions regarding Russian oil supplies, "all the 27 EU nations always voted in support of restrictions on Russia until now." "Even [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban has never abstained," a high-ranking European diplomat told Le Monde on the condition of anonymity.

"As far as sanctions are concerned, some member states oppose them. There are also differences regarding military and financial aid," the source said.

In his words, with no end to the conflict in sight, "Europeans will have to search for a solution, allowing to continue support for Ukraine in the long-term perspective," the paper wrote.

On October 6, the EU introduced an eighth package of sanctions against Russia due to the accession of four new constituent entities to Russia. The new package includes a legislative basis for establishing a price cap on Russian oil, as well as restrictions on the maritime transportation of crude oil and oil products to third countries. In his speech to the Russian Energy Week forum on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would not supply its fuel to countries that introduce the price cap.