Serbia’s gas deal with Putin has created a fresh headache for Europe
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Sunday that Serbia has agreed to a three year gas supply deal with Gazprom, Russia’s state energy provider. In doing so, Vucic could upset the Western anti-Putin alliance and the European Union (EU). The EU has recently announced the final deal for a sixth package of sanctions against Russia and that includes a partial ban on Russian oil imports.
Brussels was forced to make an exemption on the ban for important oil to Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic via a pipeline. Serbia is not an EU member, however it is part of an EU enlargement plan as the EU sees the Western Balkan states as key to European security. Serbia is a major player in the geopolitics of the Western Balkans due to its location, population and size. Serbia has backed UN resolutions that condemn the Russian invasion, however it has not sanctions Moscow or completely aligned itself with the EU on the sanctions. It is becoming clear to the EU that even if Serbia were to obtain membership in the EU, it will most likely not end its relationship with Russia which creates difficulties for the EU when it comes to its enlargement plan.