Russia Against Serbian Membership In NATO
Russian Premier and former President Vladimir Putin, seen by some as a modern-day Czar, recently visited several Balkan countries. He was there to secure better economic relation, but also to secure stronger political relations with a major partner, Serbia. Unofficial statements between Putin and Serbian officials show the Russian leader expressing his strong opposition to potential enlargement of the NATO pact on Serbia and Balkans.
Change Of Strategies
These two countries have been political allies for many centuries. Russia was and still is Serbia’s strongest patron on the international political scene. That's especially true in the UN’s Security Council, where Russia was able to stop many resolutions during the Balkan wars. Today, Russia supports Serbia’s European aspirations and clearly states they don’t have anything against possible membership in European Union. But the NATO pact is something different.
“NATO expansion is absolutely against the interests of Russia," Putin said in Belgrade. "If Serbia joined NATO and opted for the missile shield against Russia, we would have to react. We would have to change our strategy in Serbia."
This change could lose Serbian support on the international scene. It could slow or kill forever Serbian aspirations to bring Kosovo back under her constitutional and territorial control. Hundreds of millions of dollars injected in Serbian economic and industrial system probably will be pumped out and directed towards other regional partners such as Slovenia (also visited by Putin in recent days).
Serbian officials led by Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac deny any rumours regarding NATO membership but that is expected if you don’t want to attack a hand which feeds you.
An Internal Matter?
Professor Zoran Dragisic from the Belgrade Faculty of Security says that possible NATO membership is a Serbian internal matter and doesn’t need Russian approval. He says also if Russia has some problems with NATO that’s it her problem, not Serbia’s. Professor Dragisic sees Putin’s rhetoric as surprising and irrational. Putin never made such comments against some of his closest partners in the Easter Europe including Rumania, Bulgaria or Turkey, which are already NATO members.
Many other analysts in Serbia, especially military and security experts, are asking the same questions in last few days: If Russia doesn’t want us in NATO, what do they propose as an alternative for our security and military cooperation?
Aleksandar Radic, military analyst, expresses his distress with Russia’s previous actions towards Serbia as a partner and ally.
“In previous years of crisis, Russia has done very little for us as allies and as a citizen of Serbia we were not satisfied. We do not owe gratitude to Russia.”
A New Warsaw Pact?
If we take a look on these countries considered today as Russia’s strongest allies and partners in Eastern Europe we can conclude that these are members of the former Warsaw Pact. That alliance was the communists' response to the NATO pact.
With threats like this, Putin is probably trying to build some new Warsaw Pact which will be able to fulfill Russia’s interests across Europe. This does not bode well for the recently liberated Eastern Europe.
Esmir Milavic is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist