Mon, 02 Oct 2023

Just as it seemed Kiev was winning, Russians "began to fight better," said Aleksandar Vucic

The conflict in Ukraine may last for several more winters, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday, adding that a ceasefire of some kind would be welcome but is unlikely. He commented on the hostilities while visiting Norway, a NATO member that he said Serbia should emulate in terms of technology and economic development.

A question about Ukraine came during a lengthy interview with Serbia's TV Pink. Earlier this month, Vucic had told the same outlet that the battle for Kherson would be the "Stalingrad" and a turning point of the conflict - only for Russia to evacuate from the city to the left bank of the Dnieper River. 

"When many people began to think that the war is over and that Ukraine is winning, the Russians started to fight better," Vucic said. "I'm not saying they've got some kind of advantage, though. This will last for a long while, and I expect the next winter and even the one beyond to be far worse than this one."

Asked to comment on the Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, Vucic said that both Moscow and Kiev are using everything they've got at their disposal, because "there is no love in war." 

The Serbian president added that while he personally would be happy to see a ceasefire and some kind of solution to the fighting, none of that was up to him. 

"I'm neither a Russian nor a Ukrainian - it's up to them to resolve this - nor an American to meddle into the whole thing," Vucic said.

The EU has been pressuring Serbia to "harmonize" its foreign policy with Brussels and sanction Russia, but Vucic has insisted on an independent and neutral course for Belgrade. Russia has supported Serbia's refusal to recognize its breakaway province of Kosovo as an independent state, something the EU demands as a prerequisite for membership talks. Kosovo was originally occupied by NATO troops in 1999.

After a tour of Oslo and Trondheim, Vucic told reporters he was "glad Norway is our partner" and that Serbia could "learn a lot" from the Scandinavian country.

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