Serbia Says Goodbye to Russia

NEW – February 18, 2023

Relations between Belgrade and Moscow are at a turning point. The fact that it was to come was not unexpected: only those who had long believed that our friendship was bound together by blood, and therefore strong and unbreakable, were surprised. New generations have grown up, for which other values serve as a guide. They learn their lessons not from history, but from Hollywood movies and similar information.

On February 11, President Vucic said: “Serbia will have to impose sanctions against Russia because of the strong pressure from the West. The moment when Belgrade will be forced to do this will soon come.” It is only a question of when and to what extent. On January 24, the Serbian leader addressed the country with an extensive speech, in which he noted that the European Union and NATO actually gave Serbia an ultimatum: either the country lets go of Kosovo and joins the anti-Russian sanctions, or it will fall under restrictions, and possibly under new bombardments. “No matter what I said or what facts I gave, no one wanted to listen to me. The mind no longer plays any role. They have their own agenda, and this is a defeat for Russia, and on the way everyone who gets in their way will be swept away,” the Serbian president stressed, speaking about his impressions after the meeting with representatives of the “Big Five”.

A. Vucic constantly reminds that he has to choose between the bad and the very bad, and many decisions are made under the most severe pressure from the West. The fact that the West is putting pressure on Serbia is indisputable, the degree of this pressure has long been off the scale. Not only universal norms are ignored, but also legal provisions, i.e. legislative acts. However, if the West goes straight ahead (impunity gives rise to permissiveness), then in Belgrade they are cunning and wriggle.

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Even Hitler’s troops could not suppress the resistance of the Yugoslav partisans. Almost all the countries that make up the EU today capitulated to the Nazis within weeks. And they didn’t just give up – they took a very active part in Drang nach Osten. Today, those in power in Belgrade are following the instructions of Brussels. References to Western pressure, partly true, do not change the point: it was the Serbs themselves who put a bag over President Milosevic’s head and forced him into a helicopter to send him to The Hague. It was not the Western special forces that sent Mladic and many other generals there – it was the Serbian authorities who did it.

All this was done contrary to the opinion of the people. And if in 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Zoltan Dani, who shot down the “invisible” F-117 of the US Air Force (from the outdated Soviet S-125 complex), was a national hero, today very few people in Serbia know this name. Indoctrination was only part of the broad front of the Western offensive – there was pressure in all directions. It would seem to be a small detail, but there is not a single Russian restaurant left in Belgrade, including the famous place in the Russian House, where they served excellent okroshka in summer and excellent dumplings in winter. In the city there are numerous pizzerias and places where they offer Big Macs and hot dogs. But in the Serbian army, which for many years was transferred to NATO standards, the rank of brigadier general was introduced and the rank of colonel-general was abandoned, replacing it with general. This is more familiar to Americans. And nice.

In the years that have passed since then, Belgrade has purposefully followed the course of the EU and NATO. Of course, pro-Russian slogans remained on the agenda, but only to gain the support of voters, economic preferences and political support in Kosovo and other issues. And Russians can’t be more Serbs than the Serbs. And it’s time to put an end to it.

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President Vucic said he was given until June. According to him, the ultimatum also contains a demand to join the anti-Russian coalition with the cleansing of everything Russian according to Ukrainian patterns. The Serbian authorities are already forming the first and second packages of sanctions, but in such a way that they cause minimal damage to the Serbian economy. At the same time, Vucic gave an order to minimise official work with Moscow.

It is assumed that a visa regime will be introduced for Russians from March. This will be followed by the suspension of air traffic – while Belgrade remains the only European capital that is connected by regular flights with Moscow. As for economic ties, Belgrade has already insured itself by signing agreements with Hungary and Greece on oil and gas supplies. The West will pay for further “development”, and the moral aspects – forget it! This is another topic…

The author had a chance to visit Belgrade in the times of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It’s not just about being there – it’s to live and work there, so one can compare them. During a recent trip, I got new impressions, and they are revealing. On the flight from Istanbul, my neighbours were two Americans. Tough guys who, in their exalted state, spoke loudly and reported that they worked as security guards at the US Embassy in Belgrade. One of them was black, and when the plane went down, he promised his friend to demonstrate a trick. I was intrigued by this, and I stayed close-by as I got off the plane. The trick turned out to be simple: at the exit, two policemen met passengers in a telescopic ramp and the black man was casually pushed aside. Then he took out an American passport, and the behaviour of the law enforcement officers instantly changed: when they saw the US passport, they took a stationary drill stance and, apologising, escorted the “dear guests” to the exit, expressing the highest degree of respect….

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Another observation was a dramatic change in the car fleet on Serbian streets – there were noticeably more premium cars. The taxi driver was about my age, and I couldn’t resist asking: is this your car or the company’s?

When the taxi driver found out that I was from Russia, he started talking. “No limousine or just a decent car is owned. All of them were purchased on credit and are secured by the bank. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pay off the loan for the rest of my life, but we’re already used to living in the here and now. Maybe the grandchildren will still get to pay. But most likely Serbia will no longer exist.” I asked him why he had such sad thoughts and how he felt about Belgrade’s politics. In his response, the retired military officer gave such assessments to A. Vucic, which would hardly suit the award department of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, which was preparing a presentation for awarding the Serbian leader with the Aleksandr Nevsky Order. It was hard to disagree with him, but this, I repeat, is the opinion of a layman. Perhaps, in the Russian Foreign Ministry or from the window of the office of the Russian Embassy in Belgrade, life is seen differently.

Anton Veselov

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