The logo of the Wagner Group appears on the wall of a house in the center of Belgrade.
The video by Wagner’s group, shown on the Serbian branch of the Russian propaganda channel Russia Today, has sparked outrage in Serbia. You can see Serbian volunteers training to fight Russian troops in Ukraine.
A Russian mercenary group filmed the video in Serbian to promote the recruitment of volunteers for the war. Around the same time, the Wagner skull symbol appeared on a wall in the city center in Belgrade. It was signed by the “People’s Patrol”, a far-right organization that has repeatedly staged pro-Russia rallies – albeit on a smaller scale.
The video was released and created a stir. Serbia is actually considered a bastion of Russian loyalists in Europe. But apparently the video goes too far. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, 52, also intervened. He disliked recruitment efforts. He turns directly to the mercenaries and their boss, Yevgeny Prigoshin (61). “Why are you calling Wagner to do this if you know it’s against the rules,” Vucic said. It is illegal for Serbs to participate in conflicts abroad. An order, by the way Applies to Swiss players as well.
Haven’t spoken to Putin in months
Vucic’s comments were a rare criticism of the president towards Russia – Moscow is Serbia’s closest ally. A small number of Serbs have fought with Russian-backed forces in Ukraine since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in spring 2014. Officials are yet to release the exact figure.
Vucic took the opportunity to clarify a few things on Serbian television on Thursday. As for the war in Ukraine, Serbia is “neutral”. The party leader of the Serbian Progressive Party also insisted he had not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, 70, for “months”.
Critics often accuse Serbia of prioritizing its long-standing friendship with Russia over its ambitions to join the EU. But what has been heard from Belgrade over the past few days shows Serbia’s difficult balancing act between the EU on the one hand and the Kremlin on the other.
No sanctions against Putin
In fact, Serbia has consistently voted for resolutions at the United Nations condemning Russian aggression. “For us, Crimea is Ukraine, Donbass is Ukraine, and it will remain so,” Vucic said in an interview with US firm Bloomberg this week.
On the other hand, the Eastern European country has so far refused to impose economic sanctions on Russia. A small number of Serbs have fought with Russian-backed forces in Ukraine since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in spring 2014. Sections of the Serbs support a Russian attack on Ukraine, and pro-Russian demonstrations have taken place in the capital, Belgrade.
For the second time, the European Parliament has passed a resolution to suspend EU accession negotiations to apply political pressure. A risky move leaves room for Moscow to intervene in the Balkans. Now they want to urgently hold accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, with Bosnia gaining candidate status for accession.
“I know the EU is our way”
Serbia has been left out for now, partly because Vučić has so far seen no reason for a fundamental change in policy. Words of criticism from Belgrade were rarely addressed to the Kremlin. So if the Serbian president has been waiting for a moment to turn decisively on the West, now may be the moment.
“I know the EU is our way,” he told Bloomberg. “There are no other options.” (nad/AFP)
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”
Annecy: Christian and homeless – it’s Abdalmasih H.
Tourist hot spot Hurghada: One killed by shark
A mystery shoe was found at the crime scene. The first route leads to America