Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says his country has almost completed construction of its section of a pipeline to carry Russian natural gas under the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine.
The TurkStream pipeline project represents “a huge investment and a great chance for our country's development," Vucic said on December 4 as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi, according to Russian news agencies.
The first phase of the pipeline, to supply Turkey first, is expected to go online by the end of the year with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters (bcm).
Extensions to Bulgaria and Serbia -- with the same capacity -- are expected to be built next year.
Serbia is seeking EU membership but has remained a close ally of Russia, amid persistent tensions between Moscow and the West. The country has also vowed to remain militarily neutral, despite most countries in the Balkans joining NATO.
The Sochi meeting comes after intelligence services in Belgrade said last month they uncovered a large-scale intelligence operation between Russian spies and current and former members of the Serbian military.
However, Vucic later said the revelations wouldn’t jeopardize ties between Serbia and “brotherly and friendly” Russia.
In Sochi, Putin said bilateral relations “are developing very positively, and daily work confirms our strategic partnership."