Serbia says it was blackmailed over UN vote — Analysis

Belgrade wanted to abstain, but relented to pressure on Russia’s suspension from the Human Rights Council, President Vucic said

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that his country has been pressured under the threat of sanctions to back Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council.

Although Belgrade is close to Moscow in history, it joined Western countries this week in voting against Russia as a response to the ongoing war in Ukraine. “Our initial decision was to abstain, but then we were subjected to countless and difficult pressure,” Vucic told RTS TV on Thursday.

“They said – do you know that a decision is being made whether Serbia will be exempted from the package of sanctions on [Russian] oil, and whether it will be able to import oil after May 15?”According to the president, The possible effects of sanctions against Serbia were compared to “a nuclear strike.”  

Serbia is not like the EU and has not put any sanctions on Moscow. “The Republic of Serbia believes that it’s not in its vital political and economic interests to impose sanctions on any country,”Vucic stated that while he is keen to keep good relations with Russia and the European bloc, he also stressed his desire for strong relationships with Russia.

NATO responds to Russian neighbor’s plan to join the bloc

Belgrade had previously stated that being cut off from Russian oil and gas would be detrimental to its economy. According to Serbian media, sources from Brussels claimed that sanctions against Russia could be lifted on Friday.

Blic reported that Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the EU, said in the same interview that Belgrade should follow the EU’s restrictions against Russia and impose its own sanctions.

On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the organization’s human rights panel. Serbia was one of the 93 members that supported the suspension.

Although the EU has banned imports from Russia of Russian coal it has not yet prohibited imports oil or gas. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, stated Wednesday however that sanctions will be required against Russia for oil and gas. “sooner or later.”

Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocol, a German- and French-brokered agreement was created to grant the separatist regions special status within Ukraine.

Russia demanded Ukraine declare itself neutral and refuse to join NATO’s military bloc. Kiev denies that Russia launched the Russian military offensive and claims it had plans to seize the two territories by force.

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