MAIN TAKEAWAY OF THE MONTH
The Russian offensive in Donbas continues, with significant fighting taking place in Severodonetsk, which is virtually almost fully under Russian control. Meanwhile, millions of tons of grains remain stranded in Ukrainian ports as Russia maintains its blockade of the Black Sea, jeopardizing not only Ukraine’s economy but also the global food supply. Tensions also continue in the energy sector, as Russian energy giant Gazprom has cut off gas deliveries to several countries, following refusal to pay in rubles. Discussions at the EU level about a sixth package of sanctions, which would include an embargo on seaborne Russian oil and refined products, are now stalled due to Hungary’s concern that the new sanctions will harm landlocked countries. In the Balkans, Serbia has agreed to a new gas deal with Russia, while Albania is still at an impasse regarding the election of a new president. Moreover, the month of May saw little movement in terms of the Western Balkans’ eventual European course.