On Thursday 17 January, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Serbia along with government ministers and the heads of Russia’s space and nuclear organisations. In a context of civil protests against the Serbian President and his ruling party, this meeting aims to cement the alliance between the two countries.
The presidents will meet in the Church of St Sava which is the biggest Orthodox church in Serbia. Reinforcing Serbia’s ties with Moscow while picking this particular place conveys the importance of the Slavic and Orthodox character of the country, which appeals to the main supporters of President Vucic. It is also probably aimed to remind the European Union to stick to the country’s accession target, seeing that Serbia can find such a powerful ally in Russia if the membership doesn’t go through.
Prior to his visit, Putin said that « the US and some other Western countries » were « destabilizing » the Balkans, arguing that including Montenegro into NATO and trying to do so with Kosovo as well is a way to assert dominance in the region. Visiting Belgrade and reminding the centuries of close bonds between Serbia and Russia allows Putin to send a message to the West, especially when it it is reported that 21 deals between both countries are to be signed, including on energy and defense.
For further information:
BBC Website: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46892363