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BELGRADE, June 10 /ITAR-TASS/. Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has ruled out that the republic will impose sanctions against Russia.
“It’s impossible to imagine Serbia imposing sanctions on Russia,” Nikolic said Monday in an interview with the national television and radio company RTS.
Asked why he was not present at the inauguration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Nikolic answered that his advisor Ivan Mrkic, who had earlier been Serbia’s foreign minister, was sent to the ceremony in Kiev.
The Serbian president himself, he said, “did not think of attending the inauguration.”
“You can judge how well the president copes with his duties by whether he will be re-elected for a second term,” Nikolic said.
He said Poroshenko expressed the desire to meet with him, but added that he will go to Ukraine only “if Poroshenko pursues a policy of peace”.
Russia has been insistently urging Kiev to stop its punitive operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's Southeast, which involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation, and engage in dialogue with local residents. However, the operation continued even after Poroshenko’s inauguration on June 7.
Some Russian and Crimean officials and companies have been subjected to sanctions by Western nations, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Crimea’s incorporation by Russia in March following a coup in Ukraine in February that forced then President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the country.
The West led by the United States has repeatedly threatened Russia with further penalties, including economic ones, for its position on Ukraine, including Crimea’s reunification with Russia after a referendum following some 60 years as part of Ukraine and what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s Southeast.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly dismissed Western claims that Russia could in any way be involved in protests in Ukraine's Southeast.
Russia has rejected the threats of broader sanctions, saying the language of punitive measures is counterproductive and will have a boomerang effect on Western countries.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Residents of Ukraine’s southeastern territories staged massive protests against the February coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities. Their urge to defend their rights was apparently prompted by Crimea’s accession to Russia. Demonstrators in the Southeast, who have been demanding Ukraine’s federalization, seized some government buildings.
A punitive operation, conducted by Kiev against federalization supporters in Ukraine's Southeast, has already killed dozens of people, including civilians. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine.