Russian ally Serbia has said it won’t recognize the current votes in Russian-held parts of Ukraine that Kyiv has called “sham” referendums, dealing another international blow to the Kremlin’s hastily organized effort at consolidating early gains in its 7-month-old invasion.
Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on September 25 in Belgrade that “Serbia cannot accept these results” due to its commitment to the UN Charter and respect for international law, among other things.
Doing so “would completely violate our national and state interests, the preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the inviolability of borders,” he said.
Serbia has kept close relations with Russia in particular to bolster its refusal to recognize the 2008 declaration of sovereignty by its former province Kosovo, which is now recognized by more than 100 countries.
Moscow has repeatedly cited the Kosovo case as an example of Western overreach.
Selakovic and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signed a so-called consultation plan for their countries for the next two years on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this week.
It was the first high-level diplomatic document that Serbia and Russia have signed since February 24, when the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
The European Union’s rapporteur for EU hopeful Serbia, Vladimir Bilicik, greeted news of the signing as “a major blow to [the] accession process in the Western Balkans.”
“Let’s be clear: [Russia] is mobilizing to attack [EU] candidate state [Ukraine], Russia is attacking EU enlargement!” Bilicik said.
Belgrade backed several UN resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion but has avoided joining EU-wide sanctions joined by the bloc’s other aspiring members.
The so-called referendums in the Russia-held areas in Ukraine of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhya regions have been dismissed as frauds by Ukraine, the West, and the United Nations because they are illegal under international law.
Moscow has suggested it will defend them as part of Russia after the votes.