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Serbia-Hungary Pipeline Deal a Big Political Gamble

A plan to bring Russian oil to Serbia via a new pipeline with Hungary flies in the face of European efforts to cut energy dependence on the Kremlin in light of its war in Ukraine.

Amid a growing crisis over energy, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced this month the construction of a 128-kilometre oil pipeline connecting the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad with Hungary.

The announcement followed a week of verbal sniping between Serbia and fellow former Yugoslav republic Croatia over whether the countries of the Western Balkans should be exempted from a European Union ban on Russian crude oil imports.

Vucic said the deal with Hungary would allow Serbia to connect to “Hungarian pipelines,” but it was the Hungarian prime minister’s spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, who made clear it would be Russian oil flowing through them.

“The new oil pipeline would enable Serbia to be supplied with cheaper Urals crude oil, connecting to the Friendship pipeline,” he tweeted, referring to the Soviet-era ‘Druzhba’ pipeline bringing oil from Russia to former Eastern bloc countries.

Analysts say the move may make economic sense for Serbia, but politically it could not look worse.

Source: Balkan Insight