SFR Yugoslavia recognized Russia in December 1991 by the Decision of the Presidency on the recognition of the former republics of the USSR. Diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the USSR were established on June 24, 1940, and Serbia and the Russian Federation recognize the continuity of all inter-State documents signed between the two countries. There are about 70 bilateral treaties, agreements and protocols signed in the past. Serbia and the Russian Federation have signed and ratified 43 bilateral agreements and treaties in diverse areas of mutual cooperation so far.
According to censuses there were 3,247 Russians living in Serbia (2011) and 3,510 Serbs living in Russia (2010). There were 11,043 speakers of Serbian language in Russia, out of which 3,330 were native speakers and 3,179 native speakers of Russian in Serbia. According to 2015 data there were 29,499 Serbian citizens in Russia. According to 2013 data there were 3,290 Russian citizens in Serbia.
After the Ottoman invasion of Serbia in the 14th century, Serbian refugees found refuge in Russia. Lazar the Serb and Pachomius the Serb, were some of the notable Serbs in Russian medieval history. In 1404, Lazar the Serb built the first mechanical public clock in Russia. The cult of Saint Sava was established in Russia in the 16th century.
World War I
One of the factors that led to the beginning of the first World War was close bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Serbia and the Russian Empire. Even several years before a diplomatic crash between European powers was inevitable, Russia openly sought political and religious influence in Serbia. In May 1914, Serbian politics were polarized between two factions, one headed by the Prime Minister Nikola Pašić, and the other by the radical nationalist chief of Military Intelligence, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, known by his codename Apis. In that month, due to Colonel Dimitrigjevic’s intrigues, King Peter dismissed Pašić’s government, but the Russian Minister in Belgrade intervened to have Pašić’s government restored. Pašić, though he often talked tough in public, knew that Serbia was near-bankrupt and, having suffered heavy casualties in the Balkan Wars and in the suppression of a December 1913 Albanian revolt in Kosovo, needed peace. Since Russia also favoured peace in the Balkans, from the Russian viewpoint it was desirable to keep Pašić in power. However, the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand gave Austria-Hungary the excuse it needed to declare war on Serbia, and so Russia's efforts to maintain peace via government manipulation were futile.
After the First World War ended, the Russian Civil War ensued, in which a small number of mercenaries from Yugoslavia fought for both the Russian Whites and the Bolsheviks. After the war ended in 1922, relations between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union dwindled up until the buildup to World War II, as the latter had a newly formed communist government whereas Yugoslavia remained a monarchy until 1941. Meanwhile, the January 6 Dictatorship in Yugoslavia almost banished by decree the use of Serbian Cyrillic (the alphabet in Yugoslavia closest to Russian Cyrillic) to promote the exclusive use of Latin alphabet in Yugoslavia. However, the policy did not last permanently.
World War II
While Yugoslavia was still a monarchy in the years before Nazi Germany gained enough power to change the political landscape in Europe, communist elements were already gaining a presence in Yugoslav Parliament. Due to this, relations between communists from Yugoslavia were fostered with the highest officials of the Soviet Union. Initial relations, however, remained tense. In 1937, for example, Stalin had the Secretary-General of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, Milan Gorkić, murdered in Moscow during the Great Purge. While the Soviet Union failed to take any action during the Invasion of Yugoslavia, Soviet troops did participate in many battles in cooperation with the Yugoslav Partisans, especially in the territories of present-day Serbia. The most notable of these battles in which Soviet soldiers fought in Serbian territories was the Belgrade Offensive, which literally ended sectarian violence and Nazi occupation in Yugoslavia.
After the war ended, Yugoslavia was again established by a communist government under Josip Broz Tito with which Joseph Stalin wanted connections to. He essentially wanted the newly established Democratic Federal Yugoslavia to become a member of the Warsaw Pact as a buffer against the "New Imperialist threat" perceived at the time to be Great Britain and the United States. However, Josip Broz Tito famously rejected Stalin's pressures to fulfill membership and helped create the Non-Aligned Movement, which was regarded as the third major power bloc after NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In 1948, motivated by the desire to create a strong independent economy, Tito modeled his economic development plan independently from Moscow, which resulted in a diplomatic escalation followed by a bitter exchange of letters in which Tito affirmed that:
We study and take as an example the Soviet system, but we are developing socialism in our country in somewhat different forms. (...) No matter how much each of us loves the land of socialism, the USSR, he can in no case love his own country less.
The Soviet answer on May 4 admonished Tito and the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) for failing to admit and correct its mistakes, and went on to accuse them of being too proud of their successes against the Germans, maintaining that the Red Army had saved them from destruction. Tito's response on 17 May suggested that the matter be settled at the meeting of the Cominform to be held that June. However, Tito did not attend the second meeting of the Cominform, fearing that Yugoslavia was to be openly attacked. At this point the crisis nearly escalated into an armed conflict, as Hungarian and Soviet forces were massing on the northern Yugoslav frontier. On 28 June, the other member countries expelled Yugoslavia, citing "nationalist elements" that had "managed in the course of the past five or six months to reach a dominant position in the leadership" of the CPY. The assumption in Moscow was that once it was known that he had lost Soviet approval, Tito would collapse; ‘I will shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito,’ Stalin remarked. The expulsion effectively banished Yugoslavia from the international association of socialist states, while other socialist states of Eastern Europe subsequently underwent purges of alleged "Titoists". Stalin took the matter personally and attempted, unsuccessfully, to assassinate Tito on several occasions. In a correspondence between the two leaders, Tito openly wrote:
Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle (...) If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second.
The Breakup of Yugoslavia and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union happened simultaneously. As a result, diplomatic relations between the newly formed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Russia were slow to materialize. Throughout the 1990s, FR Yugoslavia was hard hit with sanctions from the western world and relied on Russian imports to soften the effects of the embargo. In the late 1990s, the Kosovo War began, which led to a complete collapse of relations between Yugoslavia and the West; this resulted in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which Russia strongly condemned. President Boris Yeltsin stated that "Russia is deeply upset by NATO's military action against sovereign Yugoslavia, which is nothing more than open aggression." Russia also condemned NATO at the United Nations and supported the statement that NATO air strikes on Serbia were an illegal action. Volunteers and mercenaries from Russia were cited to have gone to Kosovo in large numbers to fight the KLA, and to resist and complicate NATO operations. Around the time of the bombing, a Russia-friendly rhetoric developed in the Serbian political team as Borislav Milošević, the brother of Slobodan Milošević and the Yugoslav ambassador to Moscow at the time, proposed that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia could join the Union State which is composed by Belarus and Russia.
Highest level visits of Serbian officials to Russia include President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Koštunica meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in October 2000, visit by the Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić in February 2001, visit by the Federal Prime Minister Zoran Žižić in April 2001, visit by the President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade and Pristina in June 2001, visit by the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica to Sochi in June 2004, President of Serbia and Montenegro Svetozar Marović attended the 60th anniversary of Victory Day in 2005, President Boris Tadić and the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica attended the National Exhibition of Serbia in Moscow in November 2005, visit by the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica to Saint Petersburg in May 2006, visit by the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica to Saint Petersburg in June 2007, visit by the President Boris Tadić and the Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica to Moscow in January 2008, visit by the President Boris Tadić to Moscow in December 2008, visit by the President Dmitry Medvedev to Belgrade in October 2009.
Visits by other high officials such as Ministers of Foreign Affairs or Chairmen of Parliaments are held on average once a month.
Russia backs Serbia's position regarding Kosovo. Vladimir Putin said that any support for Kosovo's unilateral declaration is immoral and illegal. He described the recognition of Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence by several major world powers as "a terrible precedent" that "breaks up the entire system of international relations" that have taken "centuries to evolve", and "undoubtedly, it may entail a whole chain of unpredictable consequences to other regions in the world" that will come back to hit the West "in the face". During an official state visit to Serbia following the declaration, Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev reiterated support for Serbia and its stance on Kosovo.
Russia has also said that the March 2008 riots in Tibet were linked with the recognition by some states of the independence of Serbia's breakaway province, Kosovo. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in an interview with a Russian newspaper, also linked the demands for greater autonomy by ethnic Albanians in Macedonia with the Kosovo issue. Lavrov said, "There are grounds to presume that this is not occurring by chance. You can see what is happening in Tibet, how the separatists there are acting. The Albanians in Macedonia are already demanding a level of autonomy that is a clear step toward independence. Furthermore, events in other areas of the world give us grounds to assume that we are only at the beginning of a very precarious process".
On March 23 Vladimir Putin ordered urgent humanitarian aid for Kosovo Serb enclaves. Prime Minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, opposed the Russian plan for sending aid to Kosovo Serbs. He stated that Russia could only send aid if it was agreed and coordinated with Government in Pristina.
On July 15, President Dmitry Medvedev stated in a major foreign policy speech "For the EU, Kosovo is almost what Iraq is to the United States.... This is the latest example of the undermining of international law".
On 29 May 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev described Serbia as a "key partner" for Russia in Southeast Europe and announced "We intend to continue to coordinate our foreign police moves in future, including the ones related to the solving of the issue with Kosovo".
Russian ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin told a Belgrade daily in June 2009 that "Russia's stand is rather simple — we are ready to back whatever position Serbia takes (with regards to Kosovo)."
Recent bilateral meetings
|October 2000||Meeting between the Federal President, Vojislav Koštunica and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow|
|January 2001||Visit by the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Goran Svilanović, to Moscow|
|February 2001||Visit by the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Igor Sergeyev, to Belgrade|
|February 2001||Visit by the Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Miroljub Labus, to Moscow|
|March 2001||Visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russian, Igor Ivanov, to Belgrade|
|March 2001||Visit by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia, Vladimir Rushailo, to Belgrade|
|April 2001||Visit by the Federal Prime Minister, Zoran Žižić, to Moscow|
|June 2001||Visit by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to Belgrade and Pristina and meeting with Federal President Vojislav Koštunica and Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić|
|November 2001||Visit by the Federal Minister of Defense, Slobodan Krapović, to Moscow|
|December 2001||Visit by the Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Miroljub Labus, to Moscow|
|February 2002||Visit by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and Head of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojša Čović, to Moscow|
|February 2002||Visit by a delegation of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, to Belgrade|
|March 2002||Visit by a delegation of the State Duma, to Belgrade|
|May 2002||Visit by the Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Razov, to Belgrade|
|June 2002||Visit by the Russian Minister for Trade and Economic Development German Gref, to Belgrade|
|June 2002||Visit by the Mayoress of Belgrade, Radmila Hrustanović, to Moscow|
|August 2002||Visit by the President of the Chamber of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, Yevgeny Primakov|
|September 2002||Visit by the RF Minister of Culture, Michael Shvidkoy, on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the Days of Russian Culture in Serbia and Montenegro|
|September 2002||Meeting between Federal President Vojislav Koštunica and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov at the Earth Summit 2002 held in Johannesburg|
|February 2003||Visit by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia and Head of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojša Čović, to Moscow|
|April 2003||Visit by Foreign Minister Svilanović, to Moscow|
|May 2003||Visit by the Speaker of the Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro, Dragoljub Mićunović, to Moscow|
|September 2003||Visit by Rasim Ljajić, Minister for Human and Minority Rights of Serbia, to Moscow|
|September 2003||Visit by Vojislav Milovanović, Serbian Minister of Religion, to Moscow|
|September 2003||Visit by Anđelka Mihajlov, Minister for the Protection of Natural Resources and the Environment of Serbia, to Moscow|
|November 2003||Visit by Božidar Đelić, Minister of Finance and Economy, to Moscow|
|March 2004||Visit by the Minister for Emergency Situations of the Russian Federation, Sergey Shoigu, to Belgrade|
|May 2004||Visit by the Minister of Trade and Tourism Bojan Dimitrijević to Moscow, signing of the Memorandum on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and the city of Moscow|
|June 2004||Meeting between Prime Minister of Serbia Vojislav Koštunica and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in Sochi|
|June 2004||Visit by Foreign Minister Vuk Drašković to the Russian Federation|
|June 2004||Visit by Defence Minister Prvoslav Davinić to the Russian Federation|
|June 2004||Visit by the President of State Duma of the Russian Federation, Boris Gryzlov, to Serbia and Montenegro|
|March 2005||Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Cooperation in the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Konstantin Kosachov visited Serbia and Montenegro|
|April 2005||Russian President’s Special Envoy for Cooperation on International Terrorism and Organised Crime Anatoly Safonov visited Serbia and Montenegro|
|April 2005||Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov visited Belgrade to attend the Contact Group meeting|
|April 2005||Speaker of the Parliament Zoran Šami visited the Russian Federation and participated at the International Parliamentary Conference in Saint Petersburg|
|May 2005||Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marović visited the Russian Federation to attend the ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of Victory Day on 9 May in Moscow|
|May 2005||Visit by the Head of the Coordinating Center for Kosovo and Metohija, Nebojša Čović, to Moscow|
|May 2005||President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Slobodan Milosavljević visited the Russian Federation|
|November 2005||Speaker of the Parliament Zoran Šami visited the Russian Federation|
|November 2005||Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Belgrade|
|November 2005||Meeting between the President of Serbia, Boris Tadić and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow|
|November 2005||Foreign Minister Vuk Drašković visited the Russian Federation|
|November 2005||Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica visited the Russian Federation in his capacity as sponsor of the National Exhibition of Serbia in Moscow|
|May 2006||Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica met with Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg|
|August 2006||Visit by Sergey Shoigu to Serbia|
|April 2007||Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov took part in OSCE meeting in Belgrade|
|June 2007||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow|
|June 2007||Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica met with Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg|
|July 2007||Chairman of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov visited Serbia|
|November 2007||Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov visited Belgrade|
|November 2007||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow|
|January 2008||Serbian President Boris Tadić and Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica visited Moscow|
|February 2008||First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Belgrade|
|July 2008||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow|
|June 2008||Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Đelić met with the Russian Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller|
|November 2008||Co-Presidents of the Joint Serbian-Russian Committee for Economic Cooperation Sergey Shoigu and Ivica Dačić met in Moscow|
|December 2008||President of the National Assembly of Serbia Slavica Đukić Dejanović visited Moscow|
|December 2008||President of Serbia Boris Tadić visited Moscow|
|February 2009||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow and signed mutual visa waiver program|
|October 2009||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow|
|October 2009||President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev visited Belgrade to attend the ceremony to mark the liberation of Belgrade in WW II|
|February 2010||Deputy speaker of the Duma Alexander Babakov visited Belgrade|
|May 2010||President of Serbia Boris Tadić visited Moscow to attend the ceremonies to mark the 65th anniversary of Victory Day on 9 May|
|December 2010||Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić visited Moscow|
|March 2011||Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin visited Belgrade|
|April 2011||Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Belgrade|
|April 2013||Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic visited Moscow|
|May 2014||Chairman of the Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin visited Belgrade|
|June 2014||Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Belgrade|
|July 2014||Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visited Moscow|
|October 2014||President of Russia Vladimir Putin visited Belgrade to attend the military parade to mark the liberation of Belgrade in WW II|
|November 2014||Russian and Serbian military participate in joint military exercise "Srem 2014"|
Russia is an important partner in Serbia's economic cooperation with the world and is in first place in terms of trade volume, in first place in terms of import and in fifth place in terms of export. Commodity trade between the two countries in 2007 increased over that in 2006 and amounted to more than $3 billion. Exports from Serbia amounted to US$ 451.5 million, while its imports amounted to $2.6 billion.
Energy sources (oil, oil products and gas making up 83.5 per cent on the import side), raw materials and machine-building products account for the preponderant part of imports from the Russian Federation, while Serbia exports pharmaceutical products, flooring, machines, equipment, food, textiles and other consumer goods.
Russia and Serbia have shared a visa-free policy for travelers going between the two countries since 2008.
Yugoslavia and the Russian Federation signed the Agreement on cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Education, Science and Sports on July 19, 1995. Based on this Agreement a Program of Cooperation in the Areas of Education, Science and Culture was signed in December 2001 for the period 2002-2004. The Days of Culture of the Russian Federation were held in Serbia and Montenegro in 2002 and those of Serbia and Montenegro in the Russian Federation in 2003.
The Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Belgrade opened on April 9, 1933. Popular name of the centre is Russian Home.
One of the most successful and prestigious hotels in Belgrade, Hotel Moskva is named after Russia's capital. It has been on separate occasions the host to Anatoly Karpov, Mikhail Kalashnikov, Maxim Gorky, and many other prominent Russians.
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