There is no denying that Serbia has failed to face up to the horrors in its recent past, but this is hardly relevant to pro-Putin sentiment in the country (The cult of Putin in Serbia reflects a nation that has still not dealt with its past, 28 October). While there is a significant number of hardcore Russophiles in Serbian society, polling shows that these are a noisy minority of around 21%. It also shows that 50% of Serbs want the country to maintain a policy of non-alignment, which reflects the Yugoslav-era status quo. These people are not committed to Russian interests, but they’re not pro-western either.
As a Serbian-born journalist, I’ve reported on why this is the case and have had countless informal discussions about the roots of anti-western sentiment in Serbia and this is entirely a result of the suffering that its citizens endured in the 1990s under international sanctions. It’s their lived experience and resentment towards western support for Kosovo’s independence, which they see as no different to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. So there is a very practical realpolitik explanation for this.