Serbia is the only country in Europe that refuses to join the EU sanctions against Russia. Belgrade also did not condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In recent days, thousands of Serbs with Russian flags and photos of Putin took to the streets in the capital Belgrade to express their support for Russia in the war against Ukraine.
Unlike many European countries that have closed their airspace to Russian airlines, Air Serbia has doubled flights to Russia’s “capital Belgrade”, offering 15 flights a week instead of the previous seven, and promises to increase it in the near future. their number.
Thus, this Balkan country has become the only European air corridor open to Russia.
The country is in a difficult situation between Moscow and Brussels, the Serbian president claims. “We are in an exceptionally difficult situation than ever before. “We are under a lot of pressure,” said President Alexander Vuիչըiիչը in recent days after the Serbian government refused to join EU sanctions against Russia.
Serbia, which has historical, economic and trade ties with Russia, is also seeking membership in the European Union. Serbia has made the most progress towards membership in the six candidate countries of the Western Balkans, successfully implementing a number of important reforms in key areas of the country.
Serbia is also a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and conducts joint military exercises with both the Western military alliance and the Russian armed forces.
Russia is a long-time ally of Serbia, especially in the issue of Kosovo, whose independence, like Belgrade, it refuses to recognize – Moscow.
“Serbia fully understands the purpose of Russia’s special operations in Ukraine, supporting Russia and continuing to be under pressure from the West,” Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia’s ambassador to Belgrade, told Россия-24. “If we are talking about the country’s leadership, government, officials, business circles, intellectuals, just Serbs, then, of course, such a positive attitude towards the Russian Federation is absolutely prevalent,” said the Russian diplomat.
As a key ally of Moscow in the Balkans, Serbia is heavily dependent on economic ties with Russia, particularly on Russian gas and oil. Under a major deal between the two countries in 2008, 51 percent of the Serbian oil and gas company Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) was transferred to Russia’s Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Gazprom.
According to a recent poll by the European Council on Foreign Relations, 95% of Serbian citizens consider Russia to be either an ally or a partner. Although the European Union is the main source of financial assistance to Serbia, however, only 11% of Serbs consider the European Union as an ally.
Serbia has not been criticized by the bloc for not joining the EU sanctions against Russia. In response to Belgrade’s position, EU officials do not threaten to close the EU door to Serbia or cut financial aid.
Moreover, the representatives of the European Union have repeatedly pointed to Serbia’s vote at the UN in the last two weeks, praising the Vuիչիiիչի administration. The head of the EU diplomatic mission in Belgrade Emanuel Joffre said that the bloc appreciates the support of the Serbian authorities for voting in favor of the UN resolution condemning Russia’s territorial integrity in Ukraine and its aggression.
“We appreciate the fact that Serbia supported the decision of 141 UN members to support Ukraine and condemn Russia for the attack. “This is a strong position,” said a European official.