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Russian influence in Serbia losing out to China, says new report

Russia’s influence in Serbia is declining significantly, with China’s relationship with the Balkan nation flourishing, says new report from LSE IDEAS, The London School of Economics’ foreign policy think tank.

According to the report, Serbia’s lukewarm response to Russian aid during the current COVID-19 pandemic is evidence of the declining relationship. Meanwhile, Sino-Serbian relations look to be at an all-time high, the report reveals, with Belgrade embracing China’s ‘mask diplomacy’.

Vuk Vuksanovic, author of the report and Associate at LSE IDEAS, suggests that Russia’s decline in Serbia is linked to its limited capabilities in the Balkans, as well as differing national interests between the two nations on the Kosovo dispute.

Finally, he suggests Russia’s distrust of Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić. According to the report, the Serbian President is aware that his ability to stay in power is more dependent on Western nations than his ties to Russia.

While the report notes that Serbia will continue to rely on Russia for its United Nations Security Council veto on Kosovo, Serbia’s increasing desire to engage with the West will leave no alternative but to partner with nations such as China over Russia, as China provides better leverage with the West than Russia.

According to the report, the partnership with China is paying more dividends as well, with Serbia receiving USD 4 billion in direct investments and slightly over USD 5 billion in loans and infrastructure projects from China.

Vuk Vuksanovic, author of the report and Associate at LSE IDEAS, says:

“Serbia will not turn its back on Russia, if for no other reason than because of the lingering Kosovo issue. However, the limitations and mistrust between Belgrade and Moscow, largely unknown to observers, remain. (…) However, in the following years, we might hear the name Xi Jinping being mentioned more frequently than the name Vladimir Putin in Belgrade.”

Link to report:

For more information, or to speak to Vuk Vuksanovic, contact Jonny Stone at or call 01582 790704.

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