Serbian President Believes His Country Will Receive More Pressure to Sanction Russia
Aleksandar Vucic, the president of Serbia, believes that Western pressure on his country to sanction Russia will only grow stronger in the future. During an interview with Serbian media outlet RTS, Vucic said the following:
“It will get worse. Yes, there is outside pressure, and it will get worse, especially in June. They demanded that we imposed sanctions <…>, but I’m the one making decisions and I’m the one responsible.”
“The world will never be unipolar again. It will either be bipolar – US and China – or multipolar, and the second variant would be a lot more beneficial for us,” he added.
The Serbian leader called attention to China’s growing role on the international stage. He continued by noting that the issue of Taiwan “will soon be resolved.”
Vucic emphasized how Serbia’s relations with Russia have traditionally been warm.
“I’m proud that Serbia is one of the few countries that pursues its own political course. Yes, we are on the European path. Yes, we enjoy traditionally good relations with China, Russia and other countries,” he stated. “Serbia is a free and independent country. Serbia makes decisions that it – not someone else – wants and it deems necessary,” Vucic continued.
The Serbian president listed off several people in his government who are in favor of imposing sanctions on Russia. Vucic commented on recent remarks made by Economic Minister Rade Basta, saying: “Minister Basta enjoys imposing sanctions not because he likes sanctions, but because he likes approval from some people.”
Back on March 13, Serbian Minister of Economy Rade Basta said that Serbia needed to hop on the anti-Russia sanctions bandwagon and urged all members of the Serbian government to speak out on the issue. He believes that Serbian government officials should do so because the country “is paying a high price” for refusing to take punitive action against Russia. By contrast, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, stressed that the country had refused to join the sanctions bandwagon in order to uphold its national interests and stay in compliance with international law.
Following the launch of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, the Serbian government’s position was to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but would not sanction Russia for its military action. In addition, the Serbian government announced that it was temporarily suspending army and police exercises with all foreign nations. Serbia views Russia and Ukraine fraternal nations, has expressed regret over events in Ukraine, and is ready to supply humanitarian aid to Kiev, Vucic noted.
Russian Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on April , Thursday that the Serbians have been under great pressure to sanction Russia. “Attempts to draw Serbia to take side of those with an anti-Russian stance are being made constantly. We know that Belgrade is under enormous, never-before-seen pressure,” Peskov said to journalists.
Serbia’s neutrality is understandable. After taking a major shellacking at the hands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the Yugoslav Wars, Serbia has no reason to be a NATO ally. However, the country finds itself surrounded by NATO and NATO adjacent states so it must tread lightly. Those are the harsh realities of being a small state in enemy territory.