Serbian leader: Belgrade views Crimea, Donbas as Ukrainian territories

Belgrade believes that Crimea and Donbas rightfully belong to Ukraine, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“For us, Crimea is Ukraine, Donbas is Ukraine — and it’ll remain so,” he said. Vučić also noted that Serbia from the very beginning did not support Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine.

The Serbian leader said that he had not spoken to his Russian counterpart for many months. He also said that despite the “traditionally good” nature of the relationship between Belgrade and Moscow Serbia does not back every single decision made by the Kremlin or even the majority of them.

“Serbia, traditionally one of Russia’s closest allies in Europe, is trying to put some distance between itself and Moscow as the war in Ukraine strains ties between the two countries and their leaders,” Bloomberg notes.

Agency notes that the Serbian leader used to be much more cautious in his comments about the status of Donbas and Crimea. The newspaper cites his quotes from 2018 and 2019 when Vučić said that Serbia’s recognition of Donbas and Crimea would mean supporting Kosovo’s independence.

Earlier, Vučić demanded that Russia cease its efforts to recruit Serbs to join the Wagner Group. “Why do you, from Wagner, call anyone from Serbia when you know that it is against our regulations?” he stressed.

The Serbian president noted that the Wagner Group is not present in Serbia but Russian websites and social media groups publish recruiting ads in Serbian.

“Serb volunteers took part in the fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. No one has a clear idea of exact numbers at any one time but dozens of Serbs have signed up to fight in Ukraine since 2014, observers say. The Serbian legislature bans participation of its citizens in conflicts abroad and several people have been sentenced for doing so,” Reuters notes.

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