Andrew Korybko is a young American expatriate scholar and geopolitical commentator based in Moscow. We are happy to introduce him to our regular readers.
The Color Revolutionaries want to replace Vucic with a hardcore liberal-globalist who’ll unquestionably do the West’s bidding in all respects while the patriots hope that he’ll radically recalibrate his policies in a conservative-nationalist direction.
Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko assessed late last month that the ongoing anti-government protests against President Aleksandar Vucic are “attempts at a Maidan coup”, which Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik just seconded earlier this week. The mass shootings that took place in early May are being exploited by the West to put Color Revolution pressure on Vucic with the aim of getting him to accelerate the pace of his country’s pro-Western trajectory.
It’s not enough that his government already agreed to partner with NATO years ago and has consistently voted in support of anti-Russian UNGA Resolutions over the past 15 months since the West demands full and immediate compliance with all of its policy diktats. Serbia has yet to sanction Russia or recognize its Autonomous Province of Kosovo & Metohija’s self-declared “independence”, both of which Vucic has been reluctant to do since he fears that it could spell the end of his political career.
This explains why the West has sought to put Color Revolution pressure on him by exploiting last month’s mass shootings exactly as Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko assessed, but the situation isn’t as clear-cut as that since there are also patriots protesting against Vucic too. They detest the pro-Western trajectory that he’s put their country on and fear that he’ll soon sacrifice Kosovo as a quid pro quo for eventually joining the EU.
Vucic sent some signals that were interpreted by them as implying his intent to do so, ergo why they joined the protests against him. His nonchalant attitude in a recent interview towards reports of Serbian arms being funneled to Kiev will almost certainly infuriate these patriots even more. It’s therefore expected that they’ll continue participating in these demonstrations alongside pro-Western Color Revolutionaries since each have the same goal of putting pressure on him.
They obviously differ over their envisaged end game, however, since the Color Revolutionaries want to replace him with a hardcore liberal–globalist who’ll unquestionably do the West’s bidding in all respects while the patriots hope that he’ll radically recalibrate his policies in a conservative-nationalist direction. Vucic has therefore found himself in a dilemma entirely of his own making wherein he’s angered both sides of the political spectrum throughout the course of his clumsy so-called “balancing act”.
He thought that he could arm Ukraine and vote against Russia at the UNGA while also refusing to impose sanctions on Moscow. At the same time, he occasionally pays lip service to conservative-nationalist views while still moving Serbia along the path of “Euro-Atlantic integration” and recognizing Kosovo’s self-declared “independence”. Vucic’s problem is that he’s being forced to pick a side, but either of them could likely spell the end of his political career, hence why he’s dillydallied up until now.
On balance, he’s clearly more of a pro-Western leader than a pro-Russian one, but the first-mentioned de facto New Cold War bloc is displeased with the sluggish pace of his “Euro-Atlantic integration” policies. This explains why they’ve recently resorted to Color Revolution pressure with the aim of getting him to accelerate that trajectory, but the protests that their agents of influence organized also created the opportunity for patriots to push their agenda too.
Recalling the prior protests against him, precedent suggests that Vucic won’t be deposed during these latest ones. That said, the geostrategic context within which this most recent round was organized could lead to him formally imposing sanctions against Russia out of desperation for the West to relieve some of this newfound pressure upon him. He might not recognize Kosovo’s self-declared “independence”, but that also can’t be ruled out either since me might gamble that it’s best to do both around the same time.
Formally sanctioning Russia won’t worsen the patriots’ wrath, but sacrificing Kosovo is bound to provoke unprecedentedly intense protests that could possibly even turn violent. That would in turn pose the greatest self-inflicted threat to his rule thus far, which is why he’s loath to do so, but it could still happen if the West promises to fully support whatever means he resorts to for quelling potential riots. Vucic hasn’t yet made up his mind what to do, however, but the moment of reckoning is fast approaching.