22 July 2021
A Hungarian oil and gas firm subsidiary is indirectly about to give the Kremlin a chance to finish its work on bypassing the Ukrainian gas transit and encircle the Central and Eastern European gas market. While the gas link diversion appears not to cause noticeable financial damage to Gazprom’s EU gas supply business, the energy trade route change helps to advance Russia’s geopolitical ambitions.
Russian military movements on the Eastern Ukrainian border and in annexed Crimea have been taking place unhindered since mid-March. In the meantime, construction on a Hungarian-Serbian gas link is on track to be completed by 1 October 2021, according to natural gas transmission system operator (TSO) Földgázszállító Zrt (FGSZ).
The question is how the two seemingly unrelated developments connect? The Kremlin often wields energy as a geopolitical weapon to strengthen its position in Central and Eastern Europe.
Since annexing Crimea in 2014, it has been crucial for Russia to bypass the major Ukrainian gas link connecting the European Union gas market and the Russian supplier.