Saturday, 16 December 2017 | News today: 0

Russian “nyet” for the all-Slavic dreams

Vladimir Vladimirovich's decision immediately after Belgrade's visit to reduce gas distribution to Serbia by 28% has surprised many who consider themselves to be well familiar of regional and global matters. Most surprised were those who speak of NATO and EU in public, while secretly hoping for bigger Russian influence on the Balkans. Naturally, most disappointed were those who proudly bragged about the biggest military parade in the region in decades, where Putin was the guest, but also a host, considering the amount of Russian weapon presented

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Columnist: Goran Momiroski

Reduction of Russian gas for the Serbian economy by almost one third due to Serbia’s refusal to pay off its debts to Russia by March 2015, which amount to EUR 200 million, has a several possible analyses. If carefully analysed, these analyses can offer a clear insight in the region’s future.

According to one of the scenarios, Russia is just seemingly ceasing gas flow to Serbia, so that when the time has come for the valves in Ukraine to be shut down, Russia would be able to say that the rules are the same for everyone. If one the rare, true friends of Russia can be punished for not paying their debts, a decision following “the most successful” visit of any Russian leader to Serbia, than the message is clear. If official Kiev does not manage to reprogram its debts to Moscow, it would than have to look for a solution or to pray for the upcoming winter to be one of the mildest in the history. Along with Ukraine, at least six EU member states, which also receive this type of energy via Ukraine, would have to hope for the same.

The other scenario is also logical, but it contains elements which are seemingly opposed to the current Russian policies applied from Crimea to the Baltic. Some experts on global issues believe Russia has again focused its power on its bordering regions, and not to the Balkans, where – besides general desire of most of the public for NATO and EU membership – Moscow faces logistical obstacles, as well. Objectively speaking, if required, it would be much more difficult for the Russian Army to intervene in Serbia than in Ukraine or the other Baltic countries. Moreover, there are no more than a ten thousands Russians who have settled in Serbia and the Balkan countries after the First World War, which does not meet the criteria in the strategic Russian plans. Kremlin’s doctrine, according to which in 1991 Russia has not lost the territory of the Soviet union, but has only  focused its power on territory that can be controlled, is back in the game. Now, Russia redetermines its priorities. namely, it does not stretch its first line of defense, although in the era of nuclear weapon it is not a very relevant strategic issue.

As far as political implications of the Russian decision to punish Serbia and thus diverting the strong Russian sentiment in favor of western partners are concerned, Putin’s councilors are aware what it actually represents in practice. Moscow is well aware that the partial embargo for Russian energy in Serbia and the entire Balkan will bring to bigger cohesion between the region and Brussels, as well as strengthening of political powers which long for EU and NATO.

Macedonia cannot go unpunished

Moscow’s decision to decrease gas deliveries to Serbia is also beneficial for overcoming of fake dilemmas on whether join Brussels or Moscow, which were also imposed here. Unlike the Serbian leadership, which – besides flirtation with Putin’s administration – also had specific economic agreements of crucial importance, Macedonia’s state peak had carefully tailored every single word ever since the conflict in Ukraine had started and NATO members and Russia collided. Anyhow, no relevant Macedonian politician has ever left room for wrongful interpretation of Macedonia’s strategic priorities. Unlike in Serbia, where there are influential politicians who have been working towards all-Slavic federation ever since the time of Milosevic, Macedonia’s position during the entire crisis was that the only goal of the country is Euro-Atlantic integration. Even with significant share of the population being pro-Russian, Macedonia has indirectly pointed out, regardless of the danger for Moscow to alter its official position for recognition of our constitutional name, it will still remain on the road that will lead it to EU and NATO membership. It is not very important whether it will be valued by the western partners due to the blockage from Greece, as much as it is crucial that in the global turmoil for power Macedonia has managed to not create any enemies.

Russia and the international law

Official Moscow has been known for decades that, besides occasional breaching of international law for its benefit, it verbally strives for enforcement of international laws accepted by the UN. In that game of global rules, immediately after Crimea’s annexation, Moscow claimed that it is a matter of a legal act which is in accordance with decisions of the International Court of Justice, which was indirect retreat of its official position on Kosovo matter. In other words, it has practically accepted the advice of the International Court of Justice in Hague, which stated that Kosovo is entitled to annexation from Serbia. In this manner, Moscow showed seven months ago that interest will prevail over the historical friendship with Serbia when making decisions. As for the decision of the International Court of Justice regarding Greece, Russia has not stated its position yet, although the Russian diplomacy made it clear several years ago it would accept the name both countries would eventually agree on, even if the agreement does not oblige third countries to to accept the solution.

Big players for the big games

The controversial decision of Russia ‘to turn its back’ on its Serbian friends should slowly assist in clearing up other processes in the region which involve big players on the global scene. Bulgarian sources which closely monitor political and business encounters between the “western” and the “Russian” wing in Bulgarian public regarding the construction of South Stream which is supposed to continue from Bulgaria towards Serbia, say the latter is simply a defense after “Moscow has left Belgrade in the lurch”, as pro-western media in Sofia interpret it. Just like in every big game, encounters between both wings in the countries of the region mention names of important persons which directly attempt to enforce the interests of their countries. If it has been made clear that the aim of former CIA Director David Petraeus was to promote western-like way of thinking in the region and to secure USA’s interests, no one can tell whether the interest of the former German prime minister Gerhard Schröder, also active in the region, is to work for the benefits of his own country or the benefits of the company where he is employer – “Gazprom”, more precisely the Chairman of the Shareholders’ Committee of “Nord Stream” pipeline.