The inefficiency of EU leverage in Serbia during the Russia-Ukraine war

Branislav Radeljić, M. Cüneyt Özşahin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The war in Ukraine has exposed a rift between Serbia and the Brussels administration. Serbia has been accused of aligning itself with Russia as opposed to the strictly pro-Ukrainian EU. While Serbian foreign policy can be argued to be primarily influenced by Belgrade’s pan-Slavic relationship with Moscow, or authoritarian solidarity due to Serbia’s own semi-authoritarian character, this study argues that Serbia’s foreign policy reflects the current setting and the opportunities created by the major power rivalry. We reflect on the inefficiency of the EU norm and value promotion, and the rising influence of Russia and China in the Western Balkan region, which has been undermining the EU’s push for democratization and Europeanization. We argue that the Serbian foreign policy aims to maintain the domestic regime’s power and maximize benefits by exploiting the escalating rivalry between the two blocs rather than to pose a direct normative challenge to the established EU standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-716
Number of pages20
JournalSoutheast European and Black Sea Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • EU
  • Russia-Ukraine war
  • Serbia
  • Serbian Progressive Party
  • geopolitics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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