Serbia asks Russia to end recruitment of its people for Ukraine war

Russia should halt its efforts to recruit Serbs to fight alongside its Wagner paramilitary group in Ukraine, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

Vucic criticized Russia’s websites and social media groups for publishing advertisements in the Serbian language in which the Wagner group calls volunteers to join its ranks.

“Why do you, from Wagner, call anyone from Serbia when you know that it is against our regulations?” Vucic said late on Monday in a broadcast by the Belgrade-based Happy TV.

Serb volunteers took part in the fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. No one has a clear idea of exact numbers at any one time but dozens of Serbs have signed up to fight in Ukraine since 2014, observers say.

The Serbian legislature bans the participation of its citizens in conflicts abroad and several people have been sentenced for doing so.

Vucic denied allegations that the Wagner group, led by Evgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has a presence in Serbia where pro-Kremlin and ultranationalist organizations have supported the invasion of Ukraine.

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