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Russia Confident Serbia 'Partnership' Won't Be Affected By Spying Scandal

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (file photo)
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (file photo)

The Kremlin has expressed confidence that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's planned visit to Moscow next month will "once again demonstrate the spirit of partnership" between the two countries, after Belgrade said it had uncovered spying by Russian agents.

"We believe that [the visit] is very important, and we fully understand that there are certain parties who would like to mar it beforehand," Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on November 22, adding: "We are confident that such parties will fail to do so."

Serbia is seeking EU membership but has remained a close ally of Moscow. The country has also vowed to remain militarily neutral, despite most countries in the Balkans joining NATO.

Vucic on November 21 confirmed on November 21 that a Russian intelligence official had a meeting with a Serbian retired lieutenant colonel during which money changed hands, after a YouTube video of the December 2018 meetings surfaced at the weekend.

Speaking after a meeting of Serbia's National Security Council, the president said Serbia’s intelligence services had also found evidence of 10 other contacts between Russian agents and Serbian officers.

However, Vucic, who is scheduled to visit Moscow on December 4, insisted the espionage operation would not affect Serbia's "very friendly" relations with Russia, adding that he thinks "Putin was not informed about these things."

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the YouTube video "a provocation" designed to create "a certain impression" ahead of important top-level official meetings.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS

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