U.S. ambassador asks why Putin is visiting Serbia
Michael Kirby has asked why there were plans for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit on the occasion of the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade.Source: Beta
"It is not yet certain whether Putin will come, but if it happens - why is he coming?," the American ambassador was quoted as saying during an interview for the Belgrade-based Večernje Novosti daily, and adding:
"For the celebration of the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade? Belgrade was also liberated by the Third Ukrainian Army (group of armies from the Third Ukrainian Front), as part of the Red Army."
Kirby added that "a number of peoples and republic were part of the Soviet Union," and wondered whether "others were invited beside Putin" - from present-day countries from which in 1944 troops participated in the liberation of Belgrade.
"You can have good relations with Russia and China, and with the United States. But our position on visits of Chinese and Russian officials is different. The Chinese almost never attacked anyone, while the Russians have. That is something to bear in mind," the diplomat was quoted as saying when asked "how the United States looked at the announced visits to Serbia - Putin in October, and the Chinese premier in December."
According to the ambassador, Washington did not ask Belgrade to impose sanctions on Russia, "or to recognize the independence of Kosovo" - nor was it "pushing Serbia towards NATO."
"I did not ask the Serbian government to impose sanctions on Russia. So no, this is not true. I am very pleased that the government of Serbia has made it clear it respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea," said Kirby.