BOCHAROV RUCHEI (Sochi), May 24 (RIA Novosti) – Russia will provide 1.7 billion euros to finance the construction of Serbia’s stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline that will carry Russian natural gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then on to Greece, Italy and Austria, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
“The Russian side undertakes to finance that section,” Putin said after a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Alexei Miller, head of Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom, previously confirmed plans to bear full construction costs of the Serbian section.
It intends to recover the costs through transit fees later.
On February 21, Serbia passed legislation giving its section of South Stream the status of a national project.
Nikolic said on Friday that Serbia has started preparations for the construction of its stretch of the gas pipeline.
In addition to funding the South Stream section, Putin said Gazprom will invest 1.5 billion euros in its Serbian subsidiary Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) within the next several years.
That will come on top of the 1.5 billion euros it has invested in NIS since 2009, the Russian president said.
Nikolic said Serbia hopes Russia will continue to support it on the issue of Kosovo, which has been recognized as an independent republic by many countries, but not by Serbia, which considers Kosovo to be part of its territory, or by Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia.
Nikolic invited Putin to visit Serbia before the end of the year.