Ukraine has never done anything against Serbia, nor has Serbia done anything against Ukraine.” This statement by President Aleksandar Vučić after the meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Athens should represent a direction for Serbia to properly navigate complicated international affairs, where it has found itself for the first time since the fall of Berlin wall.

Due to their turbulent history, Southeast European countries could hardly find anyone around for whom they could say what Vučić said about Serbia and Ukraine. Most of the time, it is the other way around. We have often inflicted evil and injustice on each other, on our own – or someone persuaded us, which is less significant.

Again, it is hard to ignore temperament and passion in our surroundings and say, “Let go of history and who owes whom, let’s look at the future and work together as if nothing had happened.” Reconciliations after great wars, such as those between the French and the Germans or between the Germans and the British, could also be applied in Eastern Europe, but they require much more time and goodwill.


Serbia and Ukraine have nothing to reconcile about nor to hold against each other in their histories. But history still plays a significant role in making policies of today’s Eastern European governments.

That is why Vučić’s remark from Athens was much more than a polite statement after the meeting with the Ukrainian leader, which was otherwise “fruitful” (Zelensky) and “good and open” (Vučić).

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It is a continuance of his earlier appeals to citizens not to observe the war between Russia and Ukraine with a cheering attitude but to watch it soberly, because it is not a game but the biggest bloodshed since the Second World War in our closest neighborhood. Russian aggression against Ukraine affects everything in our lives: prices, supplies, security and our plans, and if we continue to treat all of this as fans, then we have nothing to hope for.


Ukraine and the Ukrainian people have never done anything bad to Serbia. It is the opposite. As a new country that had just gained independence by breaking away from the Soviet Union, Ukraine opposed the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. Ukrainians protested in Kyiv and other cities against attacks on Serbia. Ukraine has never come close to recognizing Kosovo’s independence, even now when it is under pressure. If Ukraine did that, it would make its struggle against seizing part of its territory by Russia meaningless. And that is the point that unites Serbia and Ukraine today more than any recent historical situation.

When Ukrainian fighters (who made up a disproportionate third of the Red Army) helped liberate Serbia and Belgrade from the Nazis, Serbia and Belgrade owed them appreciation .

That is why the negative emotions in Serbia toward Ukraine and its people, who have been defending themselves from external aggression and attempts to cancel themselves both as a nation and as a state, have been incomprehensible. Vučić’s simple statement about Serbia and Ukraine is a significant step to stop such cheering and deal with serious matters that affect our lives.


What can rightfully be said about Ukraine’s relationship with Serbia cannot be applied to Russia. We do not have to go too far into history. Serbia, we remember, suffered a lot from Russia. Recently, it has been 31 years since the Russian ambassador to the UN Security Council, Yuli Vorontsov, raised his hand to impose sanctions on Serbia, which led it to unprecedented misery and social disintegration.

Since then, Russia has repeatedly voted in favor of sanctions against Serbia in the Security Council, including those in 1998 and 1999, which preceded the bombing. In the meantime, it actively and wholeheartedly helped Croatia, politically and with weapons, in the conflicts against the JNA (Yugoslav National Army) and Serbian forces in Krajina. For its fraternal services in the Croatian cause, the first Russian ambassador in Zagreb, Leonid Kerestedzhiyants, received an order from Franjo Tudjman as the only foreign representative, along with the German ambassador. In return, Tudjman received the Order of Zhukov from the Kremlin.

That fraternal closeness was not merely an “incident” of Yeltsin’s Russia, as is presented today, but a continuation of harmful and hypocritical Moscow policy towards Serbia, which also rules the Putin era. That is why Russian Ambassador Andrey Nestorenko, as soon as he took office in Zagreb in 2020, laid a wreath on Tudjman’s grave, using words of respect and gratitude.


Unlike Ukraine, which is firm and principled in its refusal to recognize Kosovo as Serbia’s most significant state issue, Russia has been using it as a precedent for its conquering and violent actions for a long time, to the detriment of Serbia. Russia used Kosovo’s independence as a justification for recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia 15 years ago, and now four occupied areas in the east of Ukraine.

Kosovo is not a matter of principle for Russia, as it is for Ukraine and Serbia. It is an excuse to start a war of conquest against neighboring countries and take their sovereign territory part by part. For the Kremlin, the crime in Srebrenica is just a chip in the poker game of conquering other countries, again to Serbia’s detriment. In 2008, while justifying the aggression against Georgia, Sergey Lavrov spoke about Srebrenica and the genocide. He said that Russia would not allow a repeat of the genocide against its people like the one in Srebrenica in 1995. His boss, Vladimir Putin, used Srebrenica when he needed to “defend from genocide” his compatriots in Donetsk in 2017, and then in 2019, and said: “There will be a Srebrenica” if Ukraine closed its borders.

Ukraine has never done anything against Serbia. On the contrary, it is Serbia’s consistent and true friend because it respects Serbia’s interests and defends them wherever necessary. Russia has done a lot against Serbia. It has violated and mocked Serbia wherever it could and whenever it was essential to further its national objectives.



The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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Comments (4)
An Ignorant American
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This post is wild.

Really not sure why OP would want to draw such a strong parallel between the genocidal Serbia of the 90s and modern Ukraine. The comparison between Donbas and Kosovo is especially bewildering. Like, obviously the difference between these two is that Serbia was the aggressor against Kosovo (and later pretty much everyone else, too) while in the modern situation Ukraine is the defender against Russian imperialism. If there's any comparison to be drawn it's between 90s Serbia and modern Russia.

Gun to my head, I cannot think of a worse light you could have cast on this conflict.

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@An Ignorant American,

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You truly are an ignorant American. To argue Serbia is an aggressor in Kosovo is equivalent to saying Ukraine is an aggressor in Crimea.
Ignorance is an enemy even to its owner.
Roko's basilisk
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Most serbs I know have zero problems with Ukraine. I think the biggest problem is who your friends are and how they are blackmailing Serbia. The most sensible thing would be: Ukraine who currently has a lot of influence over the west to get them to get serbia Mitrovica back. And in return serbia fires up the arms industry to 300% and pumps out weapons you need for the infrantry to advance.

You help Serbia liberate it's people, Serbia would surely help you. It's easy to talk, but to actually put in the work is another topic. Good luck
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I don't quite agree with this article. It is true that Ukraine and Serbia historically had good relationships, for example Vojvodina (northern province of Serbia) was a part of the same country with parts of southwestern Ukraine (Austro-Hungary). But Ukraine should not seek friendship with Serbia if it would be against Kosovo, Croatia or any other European democracy. When Soviet Union and Yugoslavia disintegrated the 2 processes were the same except who was in power in Moscow and Belgrade. In Moscow in power was Boris Yeltsin who was a man of peace and he didn't allow Russian nationalists to cause bloodshed. In Belgrade everything was different and Belgrade wanted for Serbia what now Kremlin wants for Russia. Yeltsin rightly disapproved of Belgrade's aggressive behaviour.
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Kosovo is a friend of Ukraine, not Serbia.

Serbia played the russian role during balkan wars in the 90's.

Serbia was the aggressor, like russia is today.
Serbia commited genocide, like russia is today.

If you are going to compare, serbia is russia and ukraine is kosovo. Kosovo liberated itself, even their forces were named "Kosovo LIBERATION Army" ("KLA") and was supported by NATO. Who is NATO supporting today? Ukraine.

Kosovo = Ukraine.
Serbia = Russia.

Kosovo is looking to join EU and NATO, so is Ukraine.
Serbia is looking to join BRICS, Russia is a member of BRICS.

Kosovo joined sanctions against Russia, Serbia did not.

PhD Historian
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