Putin finds allies in Hungary and the Balkans amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine
The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reports that Russia's friends in the Balkans include Serbia, a candidate for the European Union, and the authorities of the Republika Srpska, which make up nearly half of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Serbian autonomous unit, has directed his policies towards Moscow. His secession plans are well-received in both Serbia and the Russian Federation.
President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, is not as strongly pro-Russian as Dodik, yet the government's official narrative portrays Russia and China as "true friends". While Serbia supported resolutions condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it refused to impose Western-style sanctions.
These sympathies, which are hard for some to accept, have stirred concerns in Berlin. As reported by "FAZ", Germany's plans to participate in a project involving infrastructure investments in Serbia, worth over 100 million euros, were initially frozen and completely halted.
"FAZ": Putin's Respected Allies in the Balkans
In late July, the United States also imposed sanctions on four high-ranking officials of the Republika Srpska, including the Justice Minister and the head of government. Moreover, a Bosnian prosecutor filed charges against Dodik and one of his associates last Friday.
Russian dissidents are feeling the pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia. A large group, numbering in the tens of thousands, has settled there after emigrating from Russia due to Putin's attack on Ukraine. Direct flights between Belgrade and significant Russian cities influenced this choice of destination. However, political activists who organize anti-Putin demonstrations and rallies are increasingly experiencing pressure from the Serbian government.
Increasing numbers of Serbs are now against their country joining the EU. Polls indicate Putin is the most admired foreign politician in the country.
Vladimir Kara-Mursa, a Russian dissident who was sentenced in April to 25 years in a penal colony for "treason", was systematically monitored and spied on by Serbian secret services. Aleksandar Vulin, the Serbian Interior Minister who now heads the secret services, personally delivered incriminating material against the oppositionist to Moscow and handed it to the Russian security apparatus.
Source: "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"