Pro-Ukraine rallies to be held in Belgrade

Pro-Ukraine protests are expected today in Belgrade, Serbia. They will be held in Republic Square where the informal group Together

Pro-Ukraine protests Belgrade

Belgrade will host pro-Ukraine protests today despite its normally pro-Russian stance – Photo: AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic

Pro-Ukraine protests are expected today in Belgrade, Serbia.

They will be held in Republic Square where the informal group Together Against War will also hold a humanitarian aid drive. Raised funds will go towards aiding Ukrainian refugees.

Serbia, in contrast to much of Europe, remains strongly pro-Russian and pro-Putin, despite the invasion of Ukraine. Serbs have historically viewed Russia, with common Slavic and Orthodox roots, as a “big brother” protecting their security. Russian oil and gas are the basis of Serbia’s energy sector, and pro-Russian media pervades the country. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, despite winning a landslide election last month, faced swift backlash for Serbia’s UN vote condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Today’s pro-Ukrainian protests will likely be small and may face counter-protests from Russian supporters. They are unlikely to push Belgrade towards adopting sanctions on Russia, as this would harm Serbia’s economy and are widely unpopular. However, this puts Vucic, who has pursued EU ascension, in a difficult spot. In the short to medium-term, Vucic will likely maintain his balancing act of lightly condemning Russian aggression while avoiding sanctions. Long-term, Serbian sanctions are more likely due to EU pressure and the likely continuation of war requiring a concrete response.

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