- Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised Serbia “uninterrupted supplies” of natural gas.
- Serbia has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has not joined in sanctions against Moscow.
- Serbia — a long-time Russian ally — is also seeking European Union membership.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to provide Serbia with “uninterrupted supplies of natural gas,” the Kremlin said on Sunday.
The Kremlin did not elaborate on the terms of the agreement, but Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he had agreed on “main elements” in a phone call with Putin that are “very favorable for Serbia,” the Associated Press reported.
“We agreed to sign a three-year contract, which is the first element of the contract that suits the Serbian side very well,” Vucic added.
“Both leaders confirmed their commitment to continuing the strengthening of a strategic partnership between Russia and Serbia based on traditionally close ties between the two peoples,” the Kremlin said in its statement.
Serbia, a long-time ally of Russia, voted on March 2 in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine. However, it has refused to join in international sanctions against Russia, Euractiv reported on May 16, citing Vucic’s comments to Prva TV, a Serbian network.
Serbia’s balancing act comes as the country has been seeking entry into the European Union. It is also almost wholly dependent on Russian gas as Gazprom holds majority stakes in its only oil company and its sole gas storage facility, per Reuters.
Serbia has a 10-year gas supply contract with Russian state-owned Gazprom that expires on May 31, according to Reuters.
Vucic admitted in a March TV address that Serbia is caught between Russia and the West in its international relations, the Financial Times reported.
“We are in an exceptionally difficult situation, there is less understanding than ever for the position of our nation,” said Vucic, per the FT. “We are facing huge pressure.”