If a war breaks out - which side will we take?

Situation in Eastern Europe is tense. NATO, Kiev and Washington say that Russia is ready to launch an attack on Ukraine, Moscow denies. Serbia to choose sides?

Source: RTS
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Tanjug/AP Photo, File
Tanjug/AP Photo, File

The question is whether it is possible for the two great world powers to reach an agreement, i.e. to avoid a conflict, but also whether Serbia will be asked to choose sides if a conflict occurs.

Mladen Lisanin, a researcher at the Institute for Political Studies, told RTS that Vladimir Putin knows that the United States cannot agree to Moscow's demands in the form in which they are presented.

"Their requests are maximalist with the intention of reaching the smallest common denominator through a process that will be somewhat more painful and dangerous," says Lisanin.

The goal is to stop NATO expansion, and Lisanin believes that Putin's administration would be ready to give up explicit wording that would be a slap in the face that the United States would not agree to, in favor of an elegant wording: that there will be no deadly NATO forces deployed.

"It is a compromise that means that Russia would not have to give much, but it could gain a lot. The United States would have to give in, in the long run, but in the Biden administration, they would consider it a gain, not a loss," says Lisanin.

He adds that the talks between Washington and Moscow are not something that will initiate a war, but central Kiev authorities could launch an attack on the eastern regions, and Washington and Moscow can agree on that, if there is reason in Washington to influence Zelensky", a researcher at the Institute for Political Studies states.

Nedeljnik journalist and columnist Ljiljana Smajlovic says that the current president of the USA, Joe Biden, is a weak president, but also that he has to show his teeth because of that, which poses a danger for the current situation in Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Smajlovic, was verbally told that he could not get the written guarantees that Russia is asking for, but that Ukraine is not ready to become a NATO member in security or democracy for decades.

"I don't see how Putin can agree to this kind of promise," said Smajlovic, who reminded that Montenegro and Albania are members of NATO.

This is a dangerous situation also because the parties to the conflict misinterpret the intentions of their opponents.

In the event of a conflict, Belgrade's position would be difficult

From the Serbian perspective, there is a fear of a fiercer conflict because Belgrade's position would be difficult.

"You must not make alliances against countries that have hurt you, let alone those that have not. I think that the Americans, and presumably the Russians, will seek various proofs of good intentions if there is a fiercer conflict," Smajlovic said.

She reminds that Pakistan found itself in such a situation, which was invited to the Summit for Democracy, but Imran Khan did not go to that virtual summit in order not to hurt the Chinese.

"If Pakistan cannot go to the virtual summit so that it does not turn out that it has stood against China, imagine what pressures will be on us to show loyalty with various gestures," says the columnist of Nedeljnik.

Lisanin says that while the crisis is of low intensity, Serbia is not under pressure. "But, in case of an escalation, Serbia could face an awkward choice within six months to a year. I doubt we would find a way to get out of such a difficult challenge," states Lisanin.

Rome perspective

Tanjug/AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
Tanjug/AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Zeljko Pantelic, a journalist from Rome, says that there will be no war because Western European members do not have that kind of psychosis as Eastern members - which is logical because they are not close to Russia and do not have a turbulent history with that country.

"We have a division in the EU into NATO's Eastern European wing, which looks to Washington, and Italy, France and Germany, which are even against more serious sanctions against Russia. They want to involve Russia to be a partner, not an adversary, which is evident from Macron's statement", Pantelic said.

He points out that Germany does not like the tightening of relations with Russia because of gas, given that the green revolution in Berlin relies on natural gas.

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