Europe Fears Putin's New "Trojan Horse"
Serbia, seen as a potential member of the European Union (EU), is raising concerns among European experts for being Russia's "Trojan horse" within Europe, according to Maja Ruge, a Balkans expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, as reported by CNN.
Following the initiation of the special operation in Ukraine, the United States and the EU intensified efforts to bring Serbia closer into the EU orbit and distance it from Russia. Diplomats from the West offered Serbia an expedited path to EU membership while warning of potential isolation if it refused. However, after 18 months, critics argue that the current approach, relying solely on incentives, may not achieve the intended goals. Serbia has refused to support European sanctions against Russia and continues to pursue its own regional interests. Ruge expressed concerns in an interview, stating, "Assuming that we will somehow miraculously accept Serbia into the EU, with such a government, you will practically introduce another Russian Trojan horse into the EU, as you did with Viktor Orban."
Ruge emphasized that this approach would only import "Russian influence" into Europe.
Meanwhile, Alicia Kearns, Chair of the UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed her disappointment with Western diplomats who believe that they are bringing Serbia closer to the EU and NATO through these tactics. Kearns argued that this is not reflective of the situation "on the ground" and suggested that President Vucic is mocking the efforts of the West.
During a meeting with Russian Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, President Vucic reaffirmed Belgrade's commitment to maintaining harmonious relations with Russia, further raising concerns about Serbia's alignment with the East rather than the West.
As tensions continue to rise over Serbia's perceived role in Russia's influence within Europe, Western leaders face a significant challenge in navigating the complex dynamics of regional politics and maintaining unity in their approach to counteracting external forces seeking to gain influence within the continent.