US senator hopes Serbia adopts Russia sanctions as Serb spy chief travels to Moscow
Associated Press May 25, 2023
BELGRADE, Serbia — A U.S. senator on Thursday said he hopes Serbia would adopt Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, telling the Balkan country that "there is no future" in an alliance with Moscow.
"Russia's invasion has been an absolute disaster and my belief is that Russia is ultimately going to lose this conflict," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, told reporters in the Serbian capital Belgrade. Serbia is the only country in Europe that has not imposed any sanctions on Russia.
"The future for Serbia is with the European Union and with the United States not with Russia," Murphy said. "There is no future with Russia. They (Russia) are going to be devastated, a permanent pariah internationally after this invasion."
Though Serbia is formally seeking EU membership and has condemned the invasion at the United Nations, Belgrade has maintained its historically friendly relations with Moscow.
Murphy's visit to Belgrade came as Serbia's staunchly pro-Russian intelligence chief Aleksandar Vulin travelled to Moscow for a security conference. Serbia is also one of few countries with direct air links to Russian cities and is almost completely reliant on Russia for energy supplies.
Asked about Vulin's visit to Russia, Murphy replied that "obviously Russia is searching for friends these days," but that it is not "constructive" for any nation to stand by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"What Russia has done in Ukraine is unacceptable," said Murphy. "I really hope that Serbia's future is with the European Union, it is connected to the United States and the quicker that we can have better, more close alignment on Russia policy the better."
Murphy, along with senator Gary Peters. met in Belgrade with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. The meetings also focused on Western efforts to push forward normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.
The senators' week-long visit to the region also featured visits to Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
In Belgrade, the senators paid respects to the victims of Serbia's first-ever school shooting in early May when a teenager took his father's gun to open fire on fellow students and a school guard, killing ten people. Another mass shooting took place a day later in a rural area south of the capital, stunning the nation and triggering a gun crackdown.
"I hope that Serbia respond differently than the United States, as the United States has become numb to these mass atrocities," said Murphy. "Serbia has an opportunity to show the world that indifference is not an option."