Russia and Serbia have strengthened economic and diplomatic ties at the signing of a new energy deal with President Vladimir Putin restating his firm opposition to independence for Kosovo. The agreement gives Moscow control of the Serbian oil monoply and the right to route a major gas pipeline through Serbian territory. The EU, worried about its dependence on Russian gas, has been promoting a rival pipeline scheme. Analysts say Russian opposition to an independent Kosovo was a key factor in closing the deal.
President Vladimir Putin said: “During our discussions we stressed again our categorical opposition to independence for Kosovo. It could seriously damage the system of international human rights. It would have negative consequences for the stability of the Balkans and other regions of the world.”
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has taken a 51 percent stake in the Serbian state oil and gas company for an undisclosed price. Gazprom’s initial offer of 400 million euros last month was described by analysts as well below market value but it is not clear if this has been raised. Gazprom will also route part of its South Stream pipeline through Serbia, making it an important transit hub for supplies.