February 5, 2023

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The Russian mercenary army Wagner is now also trying to gather soldiers in Serbia | Abroad

Riots break out in Serbia after it becomes clear that the Russian military group Wagner is trying to recruit Serbs to fight in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Wagner mercenary group also produced videos in Serbian to encourage recruitment to the war.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic responded angrily on national television: “Why is Wagner trying to recruit Serbs when they know it’s against our rules?”.

Critics often accuse Serbia of prioritizing its longstanding friendship with Russia over its ambition to join the European Union, but it’s not quite that simple. President Vucic said Serbia is “neutral” on the war in Ukraine, but he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin “for several months”. He also said it was “illegal” for Serbs to be involved in conflicts abroad.

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The number of Serb recruits involved does not appear to be large. Some were already fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine in 2014, but without any kind of official approval. Serbian courts have sentenced more than 20 people for participating in “battles on foreign front lines”.

Wagner skull

In Belgrade, where provocative murals are the most common thing in the world, a Wagner skull emblem appeared on a wall in the city center last week. It was signed by the People’s Patrol, a far-right organization that has previously organized pro-Russian rallies.

No major political party in Serbia supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, Serbia has consistently voted in favor of UN resolutions condemning Russian aggression. President Vucic clarified Belgrade’s position this week: “For us, Crimea and Donbass are Ukraine and always will be.”

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This position did not make much of an impression on the European Parliament, since Serbia has not yet imposed any sanctions on Russia. For the second time, MEPs passed a resolution calling for membership negotiations to be suspended until Serbia agrees to sanctions. However, the Serbian president wrote this: “I know that the European Union is our way. There are no other ways.

50,000 warriors

According to the estimates of British military experts, Wagner has up to 50,000 fighters in Ukraine under its command. This is evidenced by the daily intelligence update released by the Ministry of Defense in London on Friday. According to the update, mercenaries are now a “key component” in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

At the end of December 2022, the dark organization was officially registered as a company, with management advice as an activity, the British reported. The activities of the paramilitary forces are not mentioned in the recording. In fact, private security and military companies are illegal in Russia.

Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, funded the troops in part with government money from government contracts with his other companies. “The registration may aim to maximize Prigozhin’s business profits and give the organization more legitimacy.”

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