Serbia, a European Union aspirant, has maintained strong connections with Moscow and has not supported Western sanctions against Russia, despite voting in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. NATO is reviled in Belgrade and Moscow because of the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, when Mr. Vucic was a spokesperson for Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
Serbo-Russian relations have traditionally been determined by the alignment of strategic objectives as well as who is in power in Belgrade and Moscow. The two nations’ new alliance began in 2008, after Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence and the global financial crisis. Burdened by the unresolved Kosovo conflict and trapped on the Western periphery, Serbia drew closer to Russia in order to wield Moscow’s UN Security Council veto to prevent international recognition of Kosovo and gain influence over the West. Public politics in Serbia had a role in improving ties with Moscow, particularly domestic sensitivity to the Kosovo crisis and Russia’s and President Vladimir Putin’s popularity.
In fact, Russia has just given over 30 combat tanks and 30 armored personnel vehicles to Serbia. Serbia has also recently bought advanced Russian Pantsir air defense systems, attack and transport helicopters, and Chinese drones.Despite ostensibly pursuing EU membership, Serbia has declined to align its foreign policy with the 27-nation union, instead strengthening ties with Russia and China.
In addition, Serbia has declined to officially denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it has refused to join the European Union, the United States, and other nations in sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Kosovo’s leader was attempting to capitalize on the global atmosphere on Sunday by presenting that “big Putin gave orders to little Putin, so the new Zelensky, in the form of Albin Kurti, will be a savior and fight against the great Serbian hegemony.”