Serbia was once again the only Balkan country to support Moscow during the voting on a resolution of the UN General Assembly calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Crimea.
On Monday night (December 9th) at the UN General Assembly in New York, Serbia voted against a resolution calling on the Russian Federation “as an occupying power” to withdraw its military forces from Crimea and to end the temporary occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Serbia was the only Balkan state to vote against the resolution, with the rest voting “yes” except Bosnia and Herzegovina abstaining.
The document was adopted, with 63 countries in favor and 19 against.
The resolution, entitled “Problem of the militarization of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as parts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov” also calls on Russia to return all equipment and weapons to Ukraine taken from three ships seized by Moscow forces which were later returned.
It also condemned the visits of Russian officials to Crimea.
This is not the first time that Serbia is the only Balkan country to stand by Russia at the UN.
In December 2017, Belgrade also supported Moscow over a UN General Assembly resolution proposed by Ukraine condemning the human rights situation in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Russia and Serbia have historically had warm relations based on Slavic ethnic ties and common affiliation with the Orthodox Church.
Most Serbs perceive Russia as their biggest ally, especially in the fight to prevent international recognition of the independence of the former Serbian province of Kosovo.
Russia regularly denounces Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, adopted in 2008, and has since voted against Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, backing Belgrade’s policies.
Serbia, for its part, has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia for its role in fomenting the conflict in Ukraine, despite repeated calls from Brussels to remind Serbia that as a candidate country for membership, it must align its foreign policy with that of the EU.
At the same time, Serbian President Alexander Vucic at a press conference with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi on December 4, said: “There is no document Russia can vote for if it is against Serbia’s interests, as Serbia does not and would not vote against the interests of Russia”.