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Ukraine’s First Lady Visits Serbia, Signaling Shift Away from Moscow


Ukraine’s First Lady Visits Serbia, Signaling Shift Away from Moscow


BELGRADE - Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, arrived in Belgrade on Sunday, marking the first visit by a top Ukrainian dignitary to Serbia since Russia’s invasion in 2022. The visit signals a shift in the Balkan country’s traditional alliance with Moscow.


Zelenska was accompanied by her Serbian counterpart, Tamara Vucic, and Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, who was also on his inaugural visit to Belgrade. The trio toured the city and its medieval Kalemegdan fortress, according to reports from the Tanjug news agency.


The visit also saw the signing of a cooperation agreement between universities in Belgrade and Kyiv, further strengthening ties between the two nations.


Despite the high pro-Russian sentiments in Serbia, fueled by historical, religious, political, and military ties, as well as Russian propaganda mainly focused on social networks and rightist groups, the country has repeatedly condemned Russia’s invasion at the United Nations and other international forums. However, Serbia has so far refused to join international sanctions against the Kremlin.


Serbian President Aleksander Vucic has met with Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, three times since 2022 during international forums abroad, most recently at a regional meeting in Tirana in February.

Since 2022, Serbia has accepted thousands of Ukrainian refugees, sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and pledged help in de-mining the country and its post-war rebuilding effort.


Last year, a classified Pentagon document revealed that Serbia has agreed to supply arms and ammunition to Kyiv or has already sent them to Ukraine, indicating a significant shift in Serbia’s stance.

The visit by Zelenska and the recent actions by Serbia highlight the changing dynamics in the region, with Serbia seemingly distancing itself from its traditional ally, Russia, and moving closer to Ukraine.

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