Serbia's minister of economy believes that his country is suffering from friendship with Russia. Will Serbia suffer even more if it stop being a friend of Russia?
Serbian Minister of Economy Rade Basta suggested imposing sanctions against Russia. This is the first public statement of its kind from a Serbian government official.
Basta represents United Serbia Party that is part of the coalition of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) led by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic. The SPS has been in coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party (the party of the current head of state Aleksandar Vučić) for several election cycles.
SPS Vice President Djordje Milicevic supported Basta's proposal.
The socialist movement of Alexander Vulin, also a member of the ruling coalition, demanded in response that Rade Basta should resign because he wanted Serbia to join "illegal sanctions against the Russian Federation."
Serbia may change its policies just because Vučić and other politicians do not rule out that they will have to give in to EU pressure if Serbia wants to become a member of the European Union.
There are indications that this may happen indeed. Serbia announced that it would no longer buy Russian MIG-29 fighters, because Russia does not maintain the planes that Serbia already has. Serbia also showed "pragmatism" when Vucic admitted that Serbian factories were selling ammunition to Ukraine through intermediaries in Turkey.
There are other conditions for Serbia to join the EU. Serbia needs to recognise the independence of the province of Kosovo and Metohija. Therefore, by yielding on sanctions, Belgrade will show that it would be willing to make concessions on Kosovo as well. If Vučić recognises Kosovo's independence in one form or another, Serbia will explode in protests.
From the economic point of view, if Serbia stops being friends with Russia, it will lose cheap Russian gas that makes the chemical and petrochemical industry of the country competitive. After all, it produces 800,000 tons of products annually and ensures employment in the north of Serbia, which is the most developed region of the country. If there is no cheap electricity, Serbia will be put on its knees, Serbian economists believe.
LNG supplies will not replace pipeline gas as Serbia has no seaports.
Given that the Serbian oil industry belongs to Russia (a subsidiary of Gazpromneft), it will be forced to supply diesel fuel to the Armed Forces of Ukraine through third countries. In another option, it can be nationalised similarly to how it happened to the Lukoil refinery in Italy and Bulgaria. In response, Moscow may terminate its support for Belgrade at the UN Security Council.
As a consequence of that, Serbia may see the resolution on Srebrenica genocide at the UN again (Russia vetoed the resolution).
What can Serbia gain from turning into Russia's adversary? The country will develop a better relationship with the United States and the European Union. Serbia will also gain access to EU's financial support. The EU will pay Serbia while instructing the government what to do to the nation's economy that will most likely become agrarian in nature. The EU will turn Serbia in a resource colony, and it will finally lose its sovereignty.
Serbia is the only European country that has not joined the sanctions against Russia. Sprint Insight polls show that 81 percent of Serbian citizens are opposed to sanctions against Russia.
Kinzhal hypersonic missiles of the Russian forces destroyed the joint Ukraine-NATO command and communications center where foreign officers were also staying