Bosnian Serb Leader Meets With Putin For Talks On Gas, Balkan Issues

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik with Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo)  

The Serb member of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s tripartite presidency, Milorad Dodik, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on December 2 for talks that reportedly included discussion of an infrastructure project to receive Russian gas.

The Kremlin has not published any accounts of the talks.

But Dodik left the meeting praising Putin’s "familiarity" with the situation in the Balkans and touting the "attention at this level in the Russian Federation" that was being granted to Republika Srpska, the Serb-dominated entity that along with a Bosniak and Croat federation makes up Bosnia.

The two men reportedly discussed plans for a "second line" of the TurkStream pipeline, which already delivers Russian gas to the region via the Black Sea.

Local media said the pipeline extension would go from Raca, on the Bosnian border in Republika Srpska with Serbia, toward Banja Luka, the de facto power center of Republika Srpska.

The pipeline extension should be jointly owned by Gazprom and the Republika Srpska side as part of a deal that would also include the construction of two gas power plants, Dodik said before leaving for Moscow.

Customers in Republika Srpska recently began receiving rerouted gas supplies coming from Russia via the TurkStream pipeline under plans announced by Gazprom in January.

TurkStream is an essential element in Russia’s strategy to bypass Ukraine with its natural gas supplies to Europe, along with the Nord Stream and the still-contentious Nord Stream 2 projects.

Dodik is reportedly scheduled to meet with Gazprom leaders on December 3.

In April, the publicly owned company in charge of gas production and transport for the national government of the state of Bosnia, BH-Gas, filed criminal charges over the rerouting of gas arriving via Serbia to Sepak, near Zvornik on Bosnia’s eastern border with Serbia.

Political leaders in Republika Srpska have blocked efforts to pass national-level legislation to regulate the gas and electricity sectors.

Dodik is one of three members of the Bosnian presidency set out in a 26-year-old peace treaty that ended the Bosnian War and divided the country and its administration largely along ethnic lines among Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats.

He has repeatedly threatened the secession of Republika Srpska from the rest of Bosnia and vowed to ignore the authority of the international overseer of civilian authority in Bosnia, High Representative Christian Schmidt.

Moscow has lent considerable diplomatic support to Dodik and his challenges to central Bosnian authorities and the international high representative.

Dodik has been threatening to withdraw from state-level institutions, including Bosnia’s joint judiciary, military, and tax administration.

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