February 2, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Serbian president urges Russia to stop recruiting Serbs for war

Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, declared the inadmissibility of recruiting Serbs to participate in hostilities in Ukraine in the ranks of the Wagner PMC and called for an end to such actions.

As informs Reuters, the head of Serbia criticized groups on social networks and Russian websites for publishing ads in Serbian calling for volunteers to join the Wagner group:

“Why are you from Wagner calling someone from Serbia when you know it’s against our rules?”

Serbian legislation prohibits the participation of its citizens in conflicts abroad, there have already been precedents with the conviction of several people under this article. Volunteers from Serbia participated in the fighting in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015, on the side of the pro-Russian forces. Exact figures on the number of Serb fighters there are unknown, but observers have been talking about dozens of mercenaries since 2014.

Vučić denied accusations that the Wagner group had a presence in Serbia, where ultra-nationalist organizations supported the invasion of Ukraine. Milos Vucevic, Serbia’s Interior Minister, said on Monday that the country’s intelligence services are studying and verifying information about the possible participation of Serbs on the side of Russia in the war against Ukraine.

Information about this began to spread in social networks in mid-January, and photos with supposedly Serb militants who arrived in the Zaporozhye region appeared on the Russian VKontakte. The report claimed that the Serbs arrived in Ukraine in violation of the law and joined the “Pavel Sudoplatov battalion.” At the same time, videos with Serbian militants began to circulate on Telegram, declaring that they had come to Ukraine “to help our brothers.”

Edition “Country” reportedthat, according to the Russians, an “international” battalion “named after Pavel Sudoplatov” is being formed on the Zaporozhye front, which will include Serbs and other foreigners who want to fight for the Russian Federation. Russian media showed a video of Serbs being trained in the occupied territories of the Zaporozhye region. It is noted that in the very near future they will take part in hostilities on the side of the Russian troops.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic noted that his country cannot support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recognizes Crimea and Donbas as Ukrainian territories:

“We said from the very beginning that we could not and have no right to support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For us, Crimea is Ukraine, Donbass is Ukraine, and it will always be so.”

He also predicted that in the war between Ukraine and Russia, “the worst is yet to come” as both sides deepen into conflict. Serbia – traditionally one of Russia’s closest allies in Europe – is trying to establish a certain distance from Moscow as a full-scale war in Ukraine exacerbates relations between the two countries and their leaders, the newspaper notes.

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