Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 85

One item likely to be on Viktor Chernomyrdin’s agenda in Washington today is the oil embargo which the European Union and the United States have imposed on Yugoslavia. Moscow has repeatedly stated its objections to the embargo, and its intention to ignore it. That position has been justified both on the basis of Russia’s friendly relations with Belgrade and on what Moscow says is the illegality of the European Union-U.S. blockade. In an official statement on April 30, the Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow’s position that Russia reserves the right to continue making oil deliveries to Yugoslavia (Itar-Tass, April 30).

According to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, Russia is now the only major oil-producing country which has thus far not agreed to halt supplies to Yugoslavia. But Solana also made the point that most Russian oil to the Balkans is delivered through a pipeline to Slovenia, and that Slovenia has agreed to the embargo. NATO officials have also suggested that, for all the hot rhetoric coming out of Moscow about the embargo, there have in fact been very few deliveries of Russian oil to Yugoslavia by ship (New York Times, May 2). Russia’s real willingness to defy NATO on this issue, therefore, is likely to be indicated not by official statements out of Moscow, but by whether Moscow makes an effort to increase deliveries of oil by sea.