Glaring Realities

Russia has been infiltrating into Serbia for its vested interests. Will Serbia pursue positive relations or will its ties with Russia falter? The situation is fluid.

By Muhammad Omar Iftikhar | May 2020

“On several occasions, Serbian security agencies gathered audio and video evidence of contacts between Lt.Col. Kleban and members of the Serbian army.” These were the words of the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic. He revealed the presence of Russian spies in Serbia during a meeting of the National Security Council that he was convening in November 2019. The Serbian intelligence agencies uncovered an intelligence operation that involved Russian spies and members of the Serbian military. Moscow’s infiltration in Serbia may put a dent in Serbia-Russia relations that have been moving smoothly for decades. President Vucic also accused some military representatives from the West of spying in Serbia. This might put Vucic in hot waters as for Western this may not bode well, especially concerning Belgrade’s relations with Washington.

“We will not change our policy towards Russia, which we see as a brotherly and friendly country,” said the Serbian president. Russia was trying to subvert the Serbian army for reasons not known to the outside world. Reports say that Russia has been trying to infiltrate into the Serbian army for its vested reasons. The intelligence endeavours by Moscow only show its intentions to achieve its foreign policy objectives. Vucic wants to maintain positive relations with Serbia. Belgrade is envisioning a steady bilateral and diplomatic relations but Moscow perhaps has other plans.

Serbia and Russia have enjoyed fruitful diplomatic relations for many decades. While both countries have Slavic roots and are religiously inclined towards being Orthodox Christians, they have plans to strengthen their ties. Serbia and Russia have also increased their military cooperation recently. The Slavic Shield 2019, a joint military exercise by Serbia and Russia saw the latter use the sophisticated S-400 air defence system and Pantsir missile battery in military exercises abroad for the first time. This defines Russia’s ambition to have its military presence in the Slavic states. Speaking of Serbia-Russia military relations, Serbia has also purchased Russian MiG-29 fighter jets along with tanks and helicopters. Perhaps Russia wants to expand its military hegemony into the Slavic states to counter the growing influence of the US over this region. This might as well spell the creation of a new bloc. To what extent is this true is yet to be seen.

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The writer has a special interest in the region’s social and political affairs. He can
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