Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, speaking to Newsmax before his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, said he does not believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "bluffing" with threats of using all means at his disposal against Ukraine, including nuclear weapons.
"I met President Putin many times, and I don't believe that he's bluffing, as he said," Vucic said in an interview on Newsmax's "National Report." "That's all I can say."
Vucic noted that he's not a political analyst, but as the president of Serbia, "I can only say that we hope peace might prevail, and everybody will do [their] best to find a compromising solution because it's much better than to wait for the other side's defeat."
During a seven-minute televised address to Russia early Wednesday, Putin warned the West that he is not bluffing about using all means possible to protect Russian territory, in an apparent veiled reference to Russia's nuclear capabilities.
Vucic, meanwhile, said Serbia has traditionally had good ties with Russia and Ukraine, but still condemned Russia's invasion.
"We have always been supportive of the territorial integrity of all of the countries in the world, and we were very much principled and aligned with the U.N. charter and the U.N. resolutions, and that's why we condemned the incursion and the invasion of the beginning of the Ukrainian war," said Vucic.
However, Vucic said "we have a different attitude toward Russia and some other issues, but we'll have to see all the opportunities on how to improve our energy sector, how to diversify our energy supply sources commitment."
Serbia came to a commitment in an original agreement with former President Donald Trump for diversifying energy away from Russia, and that's "not only about Russia," but is good for Serbia, said Vucic.
"Today we see the level of trade turnover between our two countries, Serbia and the United States of America, bigger than ever," he said. "We exceeded $1.2 billion, which is not a small amount for such a small country."
Vucic also noted the news announced Wednesday that electric adventure vehicle and SUV maker Rivian has announced the opening of a development center in Belgrade.
Rivian's center is expected to initially employ 200 people, with Serbian media reporting the technologies involved will include mapping, infotainment, advanced driver assistance systems, and IT services.
Vucic, however, said the main reason for the decision wasn't because of the nation's lithium mining capabilities, but because of the "good business climate" in Serbia.
"Very professional and skillful people were presenting our programs and our tax system fiscal system and everything else, and did a great job in speaking and attracting the attraction of the FDI's [foreign direct investments]," he said.
Vucic, who lost family members in the Holocaust, also spoke out about his country's plans for a Holocaust remembrance center and noted that Serbia is a friend of the Jewish people.
"We believe that not only that Holocaust happened, we have proof on our own territory," he said. "I also believe that crimes and atrocities that were committed against the truth against the Jewish people during the Second World War."
There was a large concentration camp on the territory of the independent state of Croatia during World War II, he said, and in today's Belgrade, work has started to build the memorial there.
"I'm proud that we were able to revive and to renew the truth for the Serbian people and for the world as well, and this is going to be really a magnificent place," said Vucic.
The Serbian president Wednesday also discussed the differences between his relationship with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
"I met President Biden four times and I met twice President Trump," said Vucic. "I can say that President Biden was one of the best-prepared people for the discussion about all the political issues."
Trump, meanwhile, is a "different type of a person, very charismatic, like a bulldozer," said Vucic, noting that the administration was "very supportive to an open Balkan initiative from the very first moment and I can say many, thanks to them."
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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