Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has reacted to the political hot topic of Wagner recruiting in Serbia by requesting—at least on television—that the controversial Russian mercenary company stop recruiting for the Ukraine war in Serbia.
Vucic said during a nationally televised broadcast that Wagner had no right to call Serbs and recruit when such recruiting is “against our laws,” as cited by the Moscow Times. He also criticized websites and social media for aiding in such recruitment, as Serbs cannot legally enlist in foreign armies or groups to fight abroad.
The Wagner topic has been repeatedly raised, however, by the press, as well as by US officials—who have publicly called for a stop to Wagner activity in Serbia—and also by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who alleged that Wagner mercenaries were also active in Kosovo during recent protests that saw ethnic-Serbs barricade roads in North Kosovo, following the arrest of ethnic Serb and former Kosovo policeman Dejan Pantic.
Serbia Monthly has seen no evidence of any such Wagner activity in Kosovo. That said, a PMC Wagner Group D o.o. was registered in Belgrade, and a “cultural center” was supposedly launched in December 2022.
The cultural center may well have been dead on the ground, as there appears to have been little activity in Serbia apart from alleged recruiting for Russia through social media. Yet questions regarding the registration of such a sanctioned company in Serbia is wont to draw legitimate criticism.
Wagner mercenaries have been accused of atrocities in Ukraine and even putting fellow Wagner soldiers to death if they protest conditions or refuse to fight. Likewise, the group has been accused of atrocities in various African states and in Syria.
Noteworthy, is that Russian progress in Soledar, Ukraine was attributed to Wagner forces by even Ukrainian officials, but recently Moscow appears to have somewhat snubbed the group with a re-insertion of Russian military forces there as the dominant offensive factor.
Photo by Medija centar Beograd, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.