Serbia’s international political stance may have just become a bit more of a tightrope, with multiple US and international news sites citing leaked documents that allegedly state that Serbia agreed to send “lethal aid” to Ukraine against the backdrop of the conflict with Russia.
The leak is yet another blow to the US in what is one of the most compromising security breaches in recent memory. A wide range of documents have been posted on line through anonymous chat forums—which ironically may have been the indirect result of clashing on-line internet gamers eager to support their arguments about the war.
As wild and theoretical as the gamer theory appears, there is little doubt that damage is done—although just how much damage is still difficult to ascertain. The most recent media coverage, which has appeared in media in the form of denials on the part of Serbia, but which originated in the form of a Reuters story, indicates that Serbia refused to train Ukrainian personnel, but that it did agree to supply weapons, with the news agency reportedly pointing to a classified chart noting weapons distribution.
The document was noted as unconfirmed by Reuters, although there is no doubt that a highly damaging leak has occurred. That said, Serbia has denied weapons exports to Ukraine, with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stating that the country “does not export military equipment to any country that we believe would be problematic and disputed in any way,” as cited by Radio Free Europe.
Noteworthy, however, have been previous unconfirmed reports on the part of the Russian media that have claimed deliveries of missiles from Serbia through third party countries.
The incident promises to complicate relations among multiple countries, with Russia having been a long-time supporter of Serbia and de facto the government of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Serbia has also been long dependent on Russian energy, and it has steadfastly refused to join in with the EU on sanctioning Russia over the war, despite pressure placed upon it by US and EU officials.
Meanwhile, Serbia and Kosovo continue to negotiate the normalization of relations, which would mean the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state—a red line that Vucic has stated he will not cross. At the same time, the EU has in the past linked eventual Serbian accession to the EU to the recognition of Kosovo and alignment with EU interests—i.e. sanctions.
In other words, whether proven or unproven, if this is not a mess, it will do until the real mess gets here.
Photo of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic by Medija Centar Beograd, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.