Russia says Serbia is under Western pressure to join sanctions

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Serbia is under unprecedented pressure to impose sanctions on Russia, a spokesperson for the Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, after a Serbian minister said the country should join Western sanctions against Moscow.

Serbia has repeatedly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the United Nations and other international forums, but it has resisted Western pressure to impose sanctions.

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“Some strange position: America puts pressure on Serbia, and the Serbian minister calls for an action against Russia,” Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on the Telegram messaging app late on Monday.

Russia, a traditional Slavic and Orthodox Christian ally, has backed Belgrade in its opposition to the 2008 independence of Kosovo, Serbia’s former, mainly Albanian, southern province, and pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia run high.

On Monday, Rade Basta, Serbia’s Economy Minister from the ranks of a co-ruling alliance of the Socialist Party and United Serbia, said Belgrade was paying “a high price” for its refusal to join an international embargo against Russia.

“Our country is already paying a high price for not imposing sanctions on Russia, and that is becoming unbearable,” Basta wrote on his Instagram account.

Serbia wants to join the European Union, its main investor and trade partner, but it must first normalize ties with Kosovo in EU-sponsored talks and align foreign policies with those of the West, including joining sanctions against Russia.

Serbia is entirely dependent on gas imports from Russia, although it has started to diversify its energy supplies.

Belgrade also maintained military cooperation with Russia which was brought to a halt following its invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

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