Prorussian Serbians rally

Again, the Balkans

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is on the verge of a stalemate. Fighting will continue over the summer, but Putin and the Kremlin need months to reconsolidate forces, plan another operation, and open a new offensive in the late fall or early winter. In the interim, Russia can be counted on to pressure the U.S. and its allies elsewhere. The Balkans is an obvious target: indeed, Russia is in the process of sparking another Balkan conflict. The U.S. and its allies should act decisively to prevent a strategic distraction.

On Monday 16 May, bomb threats gripped the Serbian capital, Belgrade, with panic. Over one hundred schools received threats in the early morning, leading to the cancellation of classes and disruption of daily commutes. The Beograđanka, a skyscraper symbolic of Serbia’s Yugoslav past, was also evacuated, along with the offices of the Beta News Agency.

Serbian authorities immediately linked these bomb threats to Russia. Not, of course, to Russian harassment. Rather, the Serbian government has argued that its support for Russia has sparked these threats. Indeed, Serbia has been reliably pro-Russian since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February—as well as centuries earlier. It has refused to impose sanctions on Russia, and continuously opposed a tougher diplomatic or economic line against the Kremlin. In recent weeks, Serbia’s pro-government tabloids have become mildly critical of the Russian invasion, a far cry from the headlines on 24 February, including “Ukraine Attacks Russia” and “Putin Checkmates Ukraine”. Pro-Russian rallies have also declined. Nevertheless, Belgrade remains reliably Russophilic, as does the Serbian population.

Read the full article at RealClear Defense.

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