Serbian President Opens Key Section Of Russia-Led Balkan Pipeline.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has presided over the ceremonial opening of the Serbian section of the Russia-led Balkan Stream natural-gas pipeline.

In a televised event from the settlement of Gospodjinci near Novy Sad on January 1, Vucic proclaimed the 403-kilometer pipeline segment open. The ceremony had been postponed from December 30 without any explanation.

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko, Srbijagas Director-General Dusan Bajatovic, and representatives of Russian gas and construction firms attended the event.

The pipeline segment is part of the larger TurkStream pipeline, which supplies Russian natural gas to Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary.

Speaking to journalists on December 25, Vucic said the government plans to extend the pipeline within Serbia to supply gas to the cities of Vranje and Valjevo.

“We will lay gas lines to bring new factories and investors there and to supply gas to the population,” he said.

Like the Nord Stream pipeline project across the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, TurkStream is intended to divert Russian gas supplies from transiting through Ukraine.

In July 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described both projects as “Kremlin tools” to expand European dependence on Russian energy supplies and to undermine Ukraine.

Based on reporting by TASS and AP

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