Serbia, Russia reaffirm strong relations

by Cristian Florescu

Russia to continue backing Serbia in preserving its territorial integrity, says Serbian interior minister

Serbia and Russia on Monday reaffirmed their strong relations and mutual respect for territorial integrity, the Serbian interior minister said after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Serbia is the only country in Europe that did not impose sanctions against Russia and it did not become part of the anti-Russian hysteria,” Aleksandar Vulin said during a visit to Moscow amid an impasse over border rules with Kosovo.

In the Western Balkans, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania have joined the EU and US in sanctioning Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Serbia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and oil, has so far refrained from following suit but faces growing pressure over its neutrality and reluctance to sanction Moscow.

According to a statement released after his meeting with Lavrov, Vulin expressed gratitude for Russia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.

“Serbia will never forget the help of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, at the invitation of (Serbian) President (Aleksandar) Vucic, prevented the adoption of a British resolution in the United Nations in 2015 that would have declared the Serbs a genocidal nation,” said Vulin.

According to the statement, Lavrov emphasized that Russia would continue to support Serbia in preserving its territorial integrity.

Earlier this month, Vucic and Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti took part in talks chaired by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, aimed at defusing tensions over Kosovo’s plans to make it mandatory for everyone in Kosovo, including Serbs living in the north, to have a Kosovar ID card and license plate. Implementation of the new policy was postponed until Sept. 1.

At their meeting in Brussels, Vucic said he suggested the distribution of “neutral plates,” though Kurti turned down the proposal.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, with most UN member states, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Türkiye, recognizing it as an autonomous country. Serbia, however, continues to see Kosovo as its territory.

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