US senator hopes Serbia will accept Russia sanctions as Serbian intelligence chief travels to Moscow

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – A US senator on Thursday said he hoped Serbia would impose Western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, telling the Balkan country that an alliance with Moscow had “no future”.

“Russia’s invasion was an absolute disaster and I believe Russia will ultimately lose this conflict,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) told reporters in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. Serbia is the only country in Europe that has not imposed sanctions on Russia.

“Serbia’s future lies with the European Union and the United States, not Russia,” Murphy said. “There is no future with Russia. You (Russia) will be devastated and will be a permanent pariah around the world after this invasion.”

Though Serbia is formally seeking EU membership and has condemned the invasion at the United Nations, Belgrade has maintained historically friendly relations with Moscow.

Murphy’s visit to Belgrade came as Serbia’s staunchly pro-Russian intelligence chief Aleksandar Vulin traveled to Moscow for a security conference. Serbia is also one of the few countries with direct flight connections to Russian cities and is almost entirely dependent on Russia for its energy supply.

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When asked about Vulin’s visit to Russia, Murphy replied that “Russia is obviously looking for friends these days,” but that it was “constructive” for any country to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“What Russia has done in Ukraine is unacceptable,” Murphy said. “I really hope that Serbia’s future lies in the European Union, that it is linked to the United States, and the sooner we can agree better and more closely on Russia policy, the better.”

Murphy, along with Senator Gary Peters. met in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. The meetings also focused on the West’s efforts to advance the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

The senators’ week-long visit to the region also included visits to Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

In Belgrade, senators paid tribute to the victims of the first shooting in Serbia in early May, when a teenager opened fire on classmates and a school keeper with his father’s gun, killing 10 people. A day later, another mass shooting occurred in a rural area south of the capital, stunning the country and sparking a crackdown at gunpoint.

“I hope that Serbia will react differently than the United States because the United States has become deaf to these mass atrocities,” Murphy said. “Serbia has a chance to show the world that indifference is not an option.”

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