Russia – Serbia Relations through Prism of 70 Years

Russia – Serbia Relations through Prism of 70 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin is to visit Serbia on October 16. This is an event of outstanding importance for finally defining the pattern of the bilateral relationship. The visit should emphasize the strategic level of cooperation and doom the attempts of some Western circles to distance Serbia from Russia. The activities aimed at making the both countries distant from each other are becoming more insistent, the fact admitted by top Serbian officials. In particular, Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told journalists that during the recent 7-8 months he has heard speculations about bringing pressure on Serbia to make it change the Russian policy in favor of getting closer to the European Union. 

Evidently, the issue does not boil down to «speculations» only. Johannes Hahn, the EU's Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner-designate, says Serbia needs to carefully consider its refusal to support EU sanctions against Russia if Belgrade hopes to join the European Union. He made the remarks to the European Parliament during a September 30 hearing on whether to confirm his appointment as Enlargement Commissioner. Mr.Hahn told the European lawmakers that if Belgrade «is moving towards accession, the signal will have to be the right one» on sanctions against Russia meaning Serbia is to be devoid of the very possibility to maneuver between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia. Actually the statement emasculated the appearingly politically correct formula put forward by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic who said that, «Serbia is trusted by both East and West». The words hit the point only if talking about the European Union and its priorities. But the United States has unleashed a new round of geopolitical game where Serbia, as well as the European Union, has no independent role to play. That’s what Belgrade has to take into consideration. 

The fact is corroborated by US preparation for the Russian President’s upcoming visit to Serbia. US Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby put into doubt the current and past relationship between the two states. «It is not yet certain whether Putin will come, but if it happens - why is he coming?», the American Ambassador was quoted as saying during an interview for the Belgrade-based Večernje Novosti daily, and adding: «For the celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade? Belgrade was also liberated by the Third Ukrainian Army (group of armies from the Third Ukrainian Front), as part of the Red Army». The phrase proves the Ambassador is an illiterate person (let’s forgive him, he’s an American) trying to spread the effect of the ongoing conflict tearing Ukraine apart on the whole of Europe. 

Michael Kirby was not stopped by the fact that the Third Ukrainian Front (not «the Third Ukrainian Army») was called Ukrainian because of the direction of the offensive launched by Soviet troops and had very conditional relation to Ukraine. Ambassadors never speak for themselves. It’s not simply the case of arrogance displayed by the US diplomat but a reflection of the myth formally presented by Washington. It says Ukrainians, not Russians, liberated Belgrade. Serbia owes its freedom to Ukrainians. Joining the EU anti-Russia sanctions by Serbia is kind of paying back to «Ukrainian liberators». 

The US Ambassador displayed his discontent with the fact that the leaders of Russia and China were invited to take part in the festivities to be held in Belgrade on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of liberation from fascist Germany. And he immediately made a stab at Russia. «You can have good relations with Russia and China, and with the United States. But our position on visits of Chinese and Russian officials is different. The Chinese almost never attacked anyone, while the Russians have. That is something to bear in mind», the diplomat was quoted as saying. Keeping in mind that the Soviet Union and China were attacked by fascist states during the Second World War, the Kirby’s words sound as blasphemy and disrespect towards the victims of fascism and mockery over the feelings of those who remained alive. He said it at the time when new fascism from Ukraine is coming to the fore. 

Does Serbia realize to what extent the geopolitical stand-off has exacerbated as a result of West’s policy aimed at making Ukraine the center of ongoing conflict? Vucic will provide an answer in the coming days. That’s what’s going to define the agenda of Belgrade-held talks. The Russian President’s press-service emphasizes the concrete historic background of the visit and the current state of things. It says, «The President of Russia will take part in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from Nazi occupation». Besides, «Talks with Tomislav Nikolic and conversations with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic are to focus on key issues of bilateral cooperation, primarily in trade and the economy», Putin’s office said. These are not the best times for Serbia, but Russia has something to offer. The JSC Gasprom Neft board of directors agreed to take 30 billion rubles two-year credit from Rossekhozbank to implement its investment program in 2015. Among other things it plans to increase investments into oil production at Serbian NIS sites. Perhaps other offers will be discussed during the visit of Russian President to Belgrade. 

Russia is willing and ready to closely cooperate with Serbia, its historic and strategic ally. Is Serbia ready to meet Russia halfway? 

Tags: Balkans  Russia  Serbia  Nikolić  Putin