Serbia Risks Exasperating the West After Three Year Gas Deal with Russia

Serbia’s president Vucic said he reached a deal with Putin to supply natural gas under favorable conditions amid the war in Ukraine goes on. Belgrade has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Serbia has not joined the Western sanctions against Moscow. While Vucic says he wants Serbia to become an EU member, his actions in recent years have strengthened ties with Russia, a long time Serbian ally.

The deal is expected to be completed when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visits Belgrade in June.

During his talk with Putin, Vucic said he told he wished peace would be established as soon as possible.

Serbia not only almost entirely dependent on Russia gas, also its main energy companies are majority owned by Russian firms.

Vucic said that they agreed on the main elements of the agreement, which he claimed were very favorable for Serbia. He said the contract would be three year, which is one of the elements that suits Serbia well.

Still, it is not clear how Serbia would receive the Russian gas if the EU decides to end Russian supplies traveling through its members. Russia has already cut off supplies to Finland, Poland and Bulgaria.

The EU has already been trying to reduce its dependence on Russian energy since the invasion started on Feb. 24, and is expected to impose further measures during a leaders’ summit that starts Monday.

Vucic has been complaining that Serbia has been forced to join the Western sanctions, but says it must resist such pressure even if it means to abandon its EU membership goal.

Since Vucic came to power ten years ago, Serbia has been sliding towards aligning with Russia. Polls show a majority of Serbian people favor a union with Russia than the EU.

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