Serbia ignores EU sanctions and reaches a natural gas supply agreement with Putin | DayDayNews

The Serbian president has refused to explicitly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow.

Serbia’s president announced in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he had reached an “extremely favorable” three-year gas supply deal with Russia as the war in Ukraine intensified.

“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main factors that are very favorable for Serbia,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, a former pro-Russian ultranationalist, told reporters on Sunday.

“We have agreed to sign a three-year contract, the first element of the contract that is very suitable for the Serbian side,” he said.

Vucic has claimed he wants to bring Serbia into the EU but has been cementing ties with longtime ally Russia in recent years. He also refused to explicitly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his country has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow.

Russia struck a deal with Serbia after Moscow cut off gas exports to EU members Finland, Poland and Bulgaria.

The gas deal is likely to be signed during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Belgrade in early June – a rare visit by a senior Russian official to a European country since the invasion of Ukraine began in February.

Despite reports of atrocities in Ukraine as a result of the invasion, Vucic and other Serbian leaders have been complaining about pressure from the West to join sanctions on Russia.

Serbian officials say the Balkan country must resist such pressure, even if it means abandoning its goal of joining the European Union.

Under Vucic’s 10 years of authoritarian rule and ruthless pro-Kremlin propaganda, Serbia has slid toward an alliance with Russia.

Opinion polls show that most people in the country would rather join some kind of alliance with Moscow than join the European Union.

“The agreement reached between President Vucic and President Putin is a testament to the extent to which Serbia’s decision not to engage in anti-Russian hysteria is respected,” Interior Minister Alexander Vulin said.

“Free leaders, free people make decisions in Serbia’s favor and do not accept orders from the West,” said Wu Lin, known for his pro-Russian stance.

The EU as a whole has been scrambling to reduce its reliance on Russian energy since the invasion and will discuss ways to do so further, hearing from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a leaders summit that begins Monday.

If the EU decides to shut down Russian gas supplies flowing through its member states, it is unclear how Serbia will get Russian gas.

Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas, and its main energy company is controlled by Russia.

In 2008, Serbia put its gas and oil sectors in the hands of Russian companies. Gazprom Neft and Gazprom jointly hold a majority stake in the country’s only oil company, and Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the country’s only gas storage facility.

Source link