In a proposed pipeline project that flies in the face of the conventional European consensus to lessen the continent's dependency on Russian oil after Russian President Putin's war of aggression in Ukraine, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced this month the construction of a 128-km oil pipeline connecting the northern Serbian City of Novi Sad with Hungary.
“The new oil pipeline would enable Serbia to be supplied with cheaper Urals crude oil, coming from the Druzbha oil pipeline, the Soviet era crude oil pipeline bringing oil from the vast Russian interior to then Soviet satellite countries.
Vucic, in a classic bit of political legerdemain, 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 pipeline may facilitate the transfer of less costly oil to arguably Russia's closest European ally, but the optics are very wrong for Serbia politically, which is one of several Balkan countries seeking access to the EU. The EU and the United States are now questioning Serbia’s proclaimed commitment to join the 27-nation bloc after it signed an agreement with Russia pledging long-term “consultations” on foreign policy matters.