25 Feb, 2022 19:26 

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Serbia reveals decision on Russia sanctions

Belgrade will not join EU in sanctions against Russia, but won’t recognize Donbass republics either

File photo: Belgrade, Serbia, February 15, 2022. ©  AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Serbia will not join the EU sanctions against Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Friday. Belgrade will also not recognize the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics because it respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Vucic said.

Vucic addressed the nation following the meeting of Serbia’s national security council, saying that the West had put enormous pressure on Belgrade to condemn Moscow.

“We faced pressure from many,” Vucic said. “We made the decision with a cool and sober mind, because we believe that respecting international law strengthens our position.” 

He added that the Serbs consider both Russians and Ukrainians as “brotherly people,” saying that it makes watching the unfolding events in Ukraine difficult.

READ MORE: UK adds Putin and Lavrov to sanctions list

On Thursday, Moscow announced the start of its military operation in Ukraine, claiming that it was the only option left for defending the people in the DPR and LPR from an imminent attack. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the operation is aimed at “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine. Kiev and its western allies insist the offensive is an “unprovoked” attack. The Russian Defense Ministry says that only military targets are being hit across the country. 

Belgrade’s position to not recognize the breakaway Donbass republics comes in view of Serbia’s own province of Kosovo, occupied during the US-led NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999, declaring independence in 2008 with US support. While over 100 countries, mainly US allies, have recognized Kosovo as independent, both Belgrade and Moscow have refused to do so.

The Kremlin repeatedly cited the Kosovo precedent when addressing the West on the developments in Crimea and the Donbass, both of which have a large ethnic Russian population and strong historic ties to Russia.

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