Marko Djuric, the Serbian ambassador to the United States, wasn't completely surprised to learn Serbian police arrested five people Thursday — all with reported ties to Russia's private military Wagner Group — on suspicion of calling for a violent overthrow of the Balkan country's populist president, Aleksandar Vucic.
Djuric spoke fondly of Serbia enjoying the second-largest economic expansion in the European Union last year, trailing only Ireland; boasted of Serbia becoming an "economic superpower" after surviving the breakup of Yugoslavia more than 30 years ago; and pointed out that on Tuesday, Serbia's president publicly denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin for his war in Ukraine.
From Djuric's perspective, it's easy to see why Russia wants to destabilize a flourishing country, especially since it's losing support worldwide for a year-long invasion of Ukraine.
"Serbia's a peace-loving nation ... that has amazing things going on right now," Djuric told Newsmax Friday evening, while appearing on "Rob Schmitt Tonight."
"Unfortunately, some people have tried to exploit the tragedy in Ukraine ... to undermine the stability in our region. Some of them have been part of the institutions ... that are trying to build these illegal bases in the north," said Djuric, adding that prior to Thursday's incident, other violent protests had occurred within the region.
During his Newsmax interview, Djuric acknowledged another reason why the Russians might want to destabilize Serbia: energy.
Serbia currently relies on Russia for most of its energy needs. However, the country is "actively seeking to diversify its energy sources," said Djuric.
"We've also stated how we feel about the invasion of Ukraine. We've said clearly that we condemn" Russia's actions over the past year "and believe in the principle of maintaining the integrity and sovereignty of all nations."
Djuric then said that, in the past, Serbia has been a "victim" of partition. "So why wouldn't we support another country trying to do the same" with sovereignty?
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