MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian and Serbian foreign ministers said Tuesday their countries were ready to build a major natural gas pipeline to Europe and confirmed that Moscow and Belgrade saw eye to eye on the Ukrainian crisis.
The meeting between Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, was held on the sidelines of the Council of Europe’s Ministers Committee.
“The talks confirmed the mutual desire to strengthen bilateral ties and press on with large-scale bilateral projects in the trade, economic and investment spheres, including the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline,” the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday on its webpage.
“We were pleased to note a certain proximity and even coincidence of … viewpoints that Moscow and Belgrade share with regard to the key issues on the European and global agenda. Particular attention was paid to the situation in the Balkans and in Ukraine,” the statement added.
Russia annually pumps about 100 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries via Ukraine, which makes up 80 percent of its total gas supplies to Europe. The 15.5-billion-euro South Stream pipeline project is designed to cut Russia’s dependence on the Ukrainian transit system.
Russian energy giant Gazprom said it would announce the final South Stream pipeline route in summer. Gazprom is considering three routes for the project: through Bulgaria to Serbia, Hungary and Austria; through Bulgaria to Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Italy; or through Bulgaria and Greece to the south of Italy.
Last week, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said there was a certain restraint on the part of European Commission against the construction of South Stream, which is aimed at diversifying the export of Russian gas and is especially important in the context of recent events in Ukraine.