America is asking us to give up Russian gas?!

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Apart from the already well-known request to loosen ties with Moscow and Beijing, a new one has now emerged at the top of the list of tasks that Washington is setting for Serbia – for our country to give up Russian gas.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar spoke openly about these US expectations, which paradoxically offer Serbia no alternative to “turning” the gas pipeline from the East, after his shuttle diplomacy in Pristina and Belgrade.

On Wednesday, in one of the subcommittees for foreign affairs of the American Senate, he said that the US authorities call on the countries of the Western Balkans, and above all Serbia, to “look for an alternative to Russian gas, including renewable energy sources and liquefied natural gas”. Escobar also claims that “some progress has been made” on this, and that the American authorities are close to “freeing some countries from complete dependence on Russian gas”, without revealing how this could be realized.

– The issue of dependence on Russian energy is not only a problem for the Western Balkans, it is a problem for a large part of Europe. There is an additional problem in the situation with the Balkans: they are largely dependent on coal energy. We have a comprehensive energy security strategy in which special attention is paid to renewable energy sources, liquefied natural gas, alternative suppliers and supply routes. We are close to freeing some countries from complete dependence on Russian gas. There are huge opportunities for American companies in this process – Escobar noted during the Senate hearing.

The United States has repeatedly offered the region various sources of gas supplies, including an offer to replace Russian natural gas with American liquefied natural gas, which is much more expensive.

Political analyst Dragomir Andjelković says for “Novosti” that the new American offers are, to say the least, indecent:

– America, which does not offer us an alternative, which talks about liquefied gas, which we and everyone in Europe lack, demands from countries such as Serbia to give up real Russian gas and thus inflict great damage on themselves. It is complete insolence, it would be incomprehensible that they put pressure on us to buy their gas and have it, because it is more expensive than Russian, let alone that they do not have it. This is completely incomprehensible and shows that Americans are completely losing their compass in some things.

Dejan S. Miletić, from the Center for the Study of Globalization, also believes that such approaches, in which we are pressured to give up our own interests in exchange for some nice words about promises on a long stick, are at least unconstructive:

– These last demands regarding Russian gas are absurd. Not only is there no alternative to Russian gas, which our country procures at the best price, but such assessments of Serbia are incorrect and do not contribute to the improvement of our relations. With this approach, Escobar and the new American administration can only push us even further to the East.

They make money and attack us

ESCOBAR’s messages about cooperation with China, according to Dragomir Andjelković, are cynical and hypocritical:

– They accuse us of cooperation with Beijing, and the biggest investments here are actually related to the Americans and the Chinese. The Americans withdrew from the Smederevo Ironworks, then the Chinese bought. The Americans are reselling the sites around Bor to the Chinese. Everything that the Chinese have taken over in our country, more or less, is connected with the unwillingness of US companies to develop business in Serbia, that is, the desire to make money on cooperation with the Chinese. And now, the problem is when we do it, and when they do it then it’s good.

“Balkan stream” brings secure supply

Serbia, except for Russian gas, has no possibility to receive blue energy from any other source in the near future. Energy experts for “Novosti” point out that liquefied petroleum gas is too expensive and cannot compete with blue fuel from pipes, neither in price nor in quantity.

Our country has provided energy security with the construction of the “Balkan Stream”, and at the end of the year with the agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the supply of blue fuel, while many European countries, in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis, face numerous challenges in this area. The capacity of that gas pipeline is 15.75 billion cubic meters of blue energy per year, and it provides us with the necessary quantities for both the economy and the citizens.

– In the next 15 years, there will be no other gas for us on the market – points out the president of the Gas Association of Serbia, Vojislav Vuletić.

Regarding the excessive emphasis on the importance of building the Serbia-Bulgaria interconnector in public, Miloš Zdravković, an energy expert, points out that there is no blue fuel that could originate in that direction. In addition, its capacity is small, only 1.8 billion cubic meters.

– In order for gas to reach our country along that route, a part of the gas pipeline from the Bulgarian side must be built, as well as an interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece, and that has not even started – Zdravković explains. – Also, the works on the terminal in the Greek port of Alexandroupolis, from where the blue energy should be delivered, have not started yet, Novosti reports.