BELGRADE, December 31. /TASS/. Serbia has paid to Russia $100 million as first part of its natural gas debt from $224 million overall gas debt, the B92 newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said back in October that Serbia could pay this sum in the short term.
“This would be very difficult to pay all the debt until March. This would immediately affect the state debt which we want to reduce,” Vucic noted.
The prime minister noted that Serbian budget indicators in September were good and he hoped that they would be even better by the year-end, primarily thanks to good collectability of excise duties.
The payment of $100 million in second tranche is expected before the end of 2015 and the remaining part of $24 million in 2016.
Serbia’s debt to Russia has grown sharply from $30 million in 2012 to current $224 million for the last several years. Serbia has recently insisted on debt payment by assets. Serbia is ready to pass its state-run oil refining company Petrohemija under control of Russian energy giant Gazprom, but the Russian gas monopoly always opposed this option.
Gas debt resulted in Russian gas supplies to Serbia being cut by about 30% by mid-November.