Today: the EU punished Serbia with sanctions against Russia, spared itself and Russia

The fourth package of sanctions of the European Council against Russia, which bans the export of luxury goods and imports of steel, covers for the first time 12 Russian energy companies, including Gazpromneft and its subsidiaries, more than 51 percent, which includes the Serbian Oil Industry (NIS) ), so the EU spared itself and Russia, and punished Serbia, Danas reported.

“The point is that Europeans have left the possibility of importing and exporting from Russia on their territory, but that third countries cannot import oil if companies or refineries are majority owned by Russia. They did not punish the Russians, they did not punish themselves, they punished us.” , assessed the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

He added that talks were being held with the EU, the United States, and that “three options were reached in consultations with Russia if Serbia is not exempted from these decisions in the next 48 hours”, and that the deadline expires this afternoon.

If sanctions were applied in this way, not only could, for example, some of the oil companies in the region, the Hungarian MOL or the Austrian OMV, be able to import oil from Russia without hindrance, but also the Russian company Lukoil in Bulgaria, but NIS does not. could.

Economist Goran Radosavljevic assessed that the EU decision by which it introduces a ban on Serbia, which is not a member of the EU, imports oil from Russia, while EU members can.

NIS has not imported oil directly from Russia for several years. Twice a year, they announce a tender for traders, often companies such as Glencore or Vitol, which are registered in other countries, such as Switzerland. It imports oil from them. “Ural type, mostly Russian and Kazakh, because the refinery is calibrated for this type of oil. But that oil is also imported by Hungarian, Croatian, Austrian, Romanian oil companies, the whole region,” said Radosavljevic.

He pointed out that the ban on the inflow of oil to Serbia could endanger the Pancevo oil refinery and that it was “killing one competitor on the market without a special reason”.

If the EU does not exclude Serbia from the decision, Vučić mentioned three scenarios, and one of them would be for the state of Serbia to take over the majority package of NIS, but the question is whether the Russian side will agree to that.

Technically, Radosavljevic pointed out, such sanctions can be circumvented by the model applied to Air Serbia, where due to the “open skies” rule, the majority owner of the airline could not be Etihad (a country outside Europe), so the state retained nominal majority ownership and management and profit left to the Etihad.

Another solution could be to import oil via Montenegro and the port of Bar, from where it would be transported to Pancevo by train, if Montenegro allows it, and if the EU allows Montenegro to allow it.

A third solution could be for a Serbian company, such as Transnafta, to import oil and then sell it to NIS, of course again if the EU turned a blind eye to it.

Radosavljevic estimates that the point of this decision is for the EU to force Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia.

“This is not the first time that something like this has happened. For example, sanctions were imposed against Sberbank in 2014, but those measures were applied to lobbying from Austria only to Sberbank outside the EU, and only banks in BiH and Serbia,” he said. is he.

Energy expert Miloš Zdravković also points out that it is unbelievable that Croatia can buy Russian oil and ban the transport of the same oil from Omišalj, via the oil pipeline to Pancevo.

He points out the possibility of transporting oil by ships from Russia across the Black Sea and the Danube to Pancevo.

Zdravkovic is skeptical about the possibility that the Russians will just hand over the majority of NIS to Serbia.
“Those with NIS bought not only gas stations, but also a dominant position in the region and the right to extract oil and gas. In these times, they make huge extra profits by selling oil and gas at these prices and at the level of Gazpromneft, NIS is very small “, said Zdravković.

Another perhaps even more important aspect of these sanctions could be the suspension of gas supplies. Unlike oil, which is a commodity and can be bought anywhere, gas can only come through a gas pipeline from two directions, and Russian gas flows through both.

Also, gas for Serbia is procured by Srbijagas, but through an intermediary, the company Jugorosgas, which is registered in Switzerland, and whose majority owner is Gazprom.

The good news is that Gazprom, the mother of Gazpromneft, is not on the list of companies with which transactions are prohibited.

Zdravkovic believes that Bulgaria will not close the Balkan Stream gas pipeline, which delivers gas from Russia to Serbia.

“This is not a decision of the UN, but of the EU. If they close the gas pipeline, they could lose a lawsuit, as they lost for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belene, for which they paid almost a billion dollars to the Russians. and Nord Stream, “Zdravkovic said.

NIS said that the business is currently running smoothly and the company remains focused on continuing the realization of the started investments and on preserving stability on the domestic market of oil derivatives, but to “monitor the situation and analyze all potential scenarios”.

By Editor

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