"I would warn the Serbs, this is not their 'Mother Russia'"

US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill said that he understands that Serbia has a long and difficult history of sanctions, and that the US understands that.

Izvor: Beta, RTS

Wednesday, 19.10.2022.


Foto: Profimedia

"I would warn the Serbs, this is not their 'Mother Russia'"

Hill added that Serbia still needs to take a good look at where its national interests lie, as he is convinced that sooner or later they will see that they are in the West.

"I would warn the Serbs to understand that this is not their 'Mother Russia', we are dealing with a very different Russia," said the U.S. Ambassador in an interview with Serbian Radio and Television last night.

Hill said that he knows that it is difficult and that Serbia has had good relations with Russia for decades, but that this is a very different Russia, a Russia that brutally attacks its neighbors and that Serbia should make a statement. He said that he does not put Serbia's position in the context of the consequences, but that he is saying that this is not the old Russia, the one from the nineties, it is about a completely new situation and Russia, which is behaving illegally and Russia, which the majority of the world condemns.

"If you look at Europe, very few countries, it seems to me that only Belarus and Serbia have not imposed sanctions on Russia. The question is whether Serbia wants to remain in that society. Many countries have imposed sanctions and paid a high price. It is questionable whether the sanctions can influence Russia's behavior, but they brought them in anyway because they understand that they need to be united and oppose what Russia is doing," Hill said.

He said that he does not think that anyone is threatening Serbia on that issue, but that he thinks that other countries are asking Serbia to make a statement. "Are you going to sit on the fence between good and evil, is there where your national interest lies? People ask difficult questions," he said, adding that he distinguishes between asking difficult questions and posing threats to Serbia.

Hill said that there are not many such countries in Europe that stopped short of condemning Russia but joined the sanctions and that Serbia "must work on it". Speaking about possible US assistance in case Serbia is affected if it imposes sanctions on Russia, the American ambassador said that his country is working to ensure that Serbia has diverse energy suppliers and will continue to do so, and that it is in the interest of both sides.

"We want to work on that with Serbia, American companies are very interested in Serbia finding additional providers of energy products, so that it does not live under the kind of blackmail that comes from Russia," Hill said. He assessed that it is in Serbia's interest to have different bidders, so that no one would be able to blackmail it.

"There is definitely a political cost included in the price, and every country, including Serbia, should be concerned when the supplier of basic needs for heating and electricity ties it to their political needs, as Russia is doing to Serbia and others," he added.

Referring to the issue of Kosovo, Hill said that he understands that it is a big issue for the people of Serbia, but he urges them to see the difference between the situation in Kosovo and the current situation in Ukraine. Russia, he said, signed the Budapest memorandum from May 1994, where it explicitly agreed to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbors, and now it is violating that, and called on people in Serbia to follow what is happening around Ukraine today.

"I understand that this is a big question for the people of Serbia. But I also call on them to understand the big difference between that very difficult question and the situation in which we now have a great power that behaves differently and tries to seize for itself something that belongs to a neighbor. And that is a very different situation. And I don't think it's good to look back at the historical similarities, I think we should turn to solving the situation we have today," Hill said.

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