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Ukraine war: Serbia is shifting closer to Russia – here's why
Serbia, and Russia have a long history of close ties due to their shared Slavic, and Orthodox heritage.
By: The Conversation
Putin is the world leader that Serbs admire the most and 95% of Serbs see Russia as a true ally, compared to only 11% who see the EU that way, despite the EU being Serbia's major financial supporter, according to a recent poll.
And 68% of Serbs said in the same poll that they believed Nato, not Vladimir Putin, had started the war in Ukraine, with 82% against the sanctions imposed on Russia.
While much of Europe is backing Ukraine in the current war, Serbia is taking a very different position. In Serbia, the government and the public both display high levels of support for Putin and Russia.
For example, Serbia has not imposed sanctions on Russia or distanced itself from Putin.
Instead, Serbia has signed an agreement with Russia to "consult" each other on foreign policy issues. Putin and the Serb president Aleksandar Vučić also have signed a new gas agreement, and the state-controlled Air Serbia airline has doubled its flights from Belgrade to Moscow.
All this runs counter to the EU's foreign policy decision to sever some of its ties with Putin over Ukraine. Serbia, as an EU candidate state, is expected to do the same.
After Putin invaded Ukraine, he had strong support in Serbia, where multiple rallies were held in his honour. Graffiti on walls in Belgrade, Serbia's capital, also included the "Z" symbol, which has come to represent public support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Since the war in Ukraine began, a mural depicting Putin with the flags of Russia and Serbia and the word "brother" were seen in Belgrade. Billboards featuring a picture of Putin and the words "happy birthday to President Putin from Serb brothers" with the letter Z printed much larger than the others were put up to mark Putin's 70th birthday.
The Conversation is a nonprofit,
independent news organization.