Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko has said that Moscow hopes that Serbia will not change its stance on imposing sanctions against Russia and that it would not consider such a decision on Belgrade's part a friendly step.
"That hope (that Serbia will not change its position on sanctions) is fairly firm, based on statements at the highest level, but also on an analysis of causes and a number of reasons why Serbia is not joining the sanctions. These reasons are very important for Serbia's development, and the majority of the population also does not think sanctions against Russia should be supported," Botsan-Kharchenko told Radio Television of Vojvodina late on May 12.
He did not want to answer the question about what consequences the imposing of sanctions against Russia would have for the two countries' relations, saying only that "sanctions are not a friendly step, especially not sanctions of this scope," stressing that he hoped it would not happen. Botsan-Kharchenko added, "I would not say there are any changes in the relations between Serbia and Russia" and underscored that Moscow had not canceled any strategically important project with Serbia.
"There are no changes backward or bad indications, on the one hand, but on the other, of course the geopolitical situation may reverberate in Russia's relationship with every country, including Serbia. The most important thing is that Serbia persistently, in a dignified manner and with respect for national interests, does not join the sanctions against Russia. That position is firm and consistent, President (Aleksandar) Vucic has confirmed that multiple times," said the Russian ambassador.
He also said that negotiations between Belgrade and Moscow on a new agreement on Russian gas supplies were "being prepared" and added that the overall relations between the two countries, as well as the situation on the market, would affect them.