Analysis of the News “Will Serbia pay dearly for Vučić’s “turn to the West” or will the citizens punish him before he goes too far in that intention”

February 2023

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Will Serbia pay dearly for Vučić’s “turn to the West” or will the citizens punish him before he goes too far in that intention

The pro-Russian portal Tabloid published an author’s text signed by Nikola Vlahović, in which it is emphasized that the Government of Serbia has officially sided with the “neo(Nazi) regime in Kiev”. In the text, which was also published on the internet edition of the more widely read portal, it is stated that Aleksandar Vučić and his ministers are sending aid to Zelensky, while „Serbia is in debt, in an energy crisis, with the highest prices of food products in Europe and in complete chaos which was all created by the treacherous policy of the outgoing dictator”.

The portal links the meeting of the President of Serbia with Western officials at the Economic Forum in Davos with the aid sent by the Government of Serbia to Ukraine for the support of Ukraine’s electric power system.

“Immediately after the infamous Economic Forum in Davos, where he was presented with the possibility of long-term imprisonment due to international arms smuggling, money laundering and criminal activities in the Balkans and beyond, overnight he became the most ardent supporter of European values, including the introduction of sanctions against Russia and the recognition of the still unrecognized Kosovo”, writes the online edition of Tabloid magazine.

It is not mentioned in the text that Serbia is the only country in the region that has not align with European sanctions against Russia, as well as that there are no concrete indications that such state policy will change. By manipulating the facts, readers are insinuated that Aleksandar Vučić has changed sides and that Serbia is sending enormous aid to Ukraine.

Although it condemned the Russian invasion, Serbia did not impose sanctions on Russia, justifying such a decision by its dependence on Russian gas and by the fact that Russia supports Serbia’s position and does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Serbia has provided three million euros to help the citizens of Ukraine. This was announced by the Government of Serbia in May 2022. The money was donated to United Nations organizations: 1.5 million euros through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and 1.5 million euros through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić announced this aid at the International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine, which was held in Warsaw last April.

In addition to these three million euros, the Serbian authorities donated two ambulances with medical equipment to Ukraine. The vehicles arrived at the Kharkiv and Cherkasy emergency centres at the end of November 2022, and the donation was arranged by the wife of the President of Serbia, Tamara Vučić, in a telephone conversation with the Ukrainian first lady, Olena Zelenska. Illustratively, Serbia donated two million euros to Albania for remediation of the consequences of the devastating earthquake that hit that country in February 2020.

In January 2023, the Government of Serbia made a decision to send energy equipment to Ukraine, through humanitarian aid and credit, however, the Government never announced exactly what energy equipment was sent to the authorities in Kyiv.

In contrast to Serbia, countries from the region that joined European sanctions sent military aid to Ukraine. For example, North Macedonia sent third-generation tanks to Ukraine during the summer of last year. One week after the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Government of Montenegro sent aid to Ukraine worth 11% of the total annual defence budget. According to Montenegrin officials, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine from September 2022 was eight million euros.

Author: Sofija Popović