Vladimir Putin warns over rise of neo-Nazism earlier than Serbia go to | Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin will try to use a military parade in Belgrade on Thursday to portray Russia and its allies as a bulwark against the rise of neo-Nazism across Europe.

The Cold War-style parade with tanks, phalanxes of soldiers and a flyover by military jets will be the first of its kind held by Serbia in nearly three decades. The last time the country was part of socialist Yugoslavia.

The event is intended to commemorate the liberation of Belgrade from the National Socialist occupation by Yugoslav partisans and the Red Army 70 years ago. The date of the ceremony was brought forward four days to meet Putin’s schedule.

At a time of deep gulf between Russia and the European Union over Ukraine, Putin’s one-day visit will be an opportunity to show that he has friends and influence who are close to Europe’s heart. For the Serbian government it is an opportunity to make itself popular with an important friend and energy supplier in a time of chronic economic crisis with the coming winter and to counter the right-wing criticism that it is too far behind in the hope of possible EU membership West tends.

For much of Wednesday, the skies over Belgrade shook as Russian jets rehearsed the formation that flew for the parade. Right-wing groups had painted the center of Belgrade with pictures of Putin and the slogan “Let’s welcome our president”.

As part of intensive security measures for the visit, the streets in Belgrade and the airport will be closed on Thursday, as will the airspace over the capital. Residents living in buildings along the route were instructed to keep the windows and blinds closed and to remove the laundry that is drying outside as a precaution against snipers.

In an interview to be published in the Serbian newspaper Politika, Putin is said to attribute the simmering conflict in Ukraine and the friction between Russia and its neighbors to the resurgence of National Socialist ideology.

“Unfortunately, the vaccine against the NS virus developed at the Nuremberg Trials is becoming less effective in some European countries. A clear sign of this trend are open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have become common in Latvia and other Baltic states, ”Putin told Politika after early excerpts published by the Russian agency RIA Novosti.

“Today it is our common goal to counteract the glorification of National Socialism, to decisively counteract attempts to revise the results of the Second World War and consequently to combat all forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.”

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said there was no contradiction between his government’s aspirations to join the EU and Putin’s warm welcome. “Serbia is moving towards the EU, which is a strategic goal, but it will not impose sanctions on Russia for many reasons, even if it is economic,” he said in a television interview this week. “Our policy is not wavering, but firm, tough, determined and clear. It has not moved left or right for a year and a half. “

Vucic said he hoped the visit would lead to trade and investment deals, particularly in the areas of agriculture and energy. But such deals would cool relations between Belgrade and Brussels, which Russia has imposed sanctions over its annexation of Crimea and its armed support for Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Putin is expected to urge the Serbian government to begin construction on the proposed South Stream pipeline, which will bring Russian gas to southern Europe. Belgrade has hesitated because of a dispute between Moscow and the EU over which the pipeline should be available to all gas producers, not just Russian Gazprom. Gazprom has a majority stake in Serbia’s largest energy company.

Putin is expected to sign seven agreements with the Serbian government during his stay in Belgrade, including one on the exchange of military technology, another problem for Brussels that has placed an arms embargo on Russia. There will also be an agreement on the “immunity and privileges” of a Serb-Russian humanitarian response center established in the city of Niš last year.

According to Jelena Milic, head of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies in Belgrade, the Niš center was not only used for flood relief and fighting forest fires, but also to equip “civil protection” units that were used by Serbs from minorities in the north of the Kosovo operated. Russia supported the Serbian opposition to Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 and refused to recognize the former Serbian province.

“There have been a lot of pro-Russian NGOs in northern Kosovo,” said Milic. “The worst of the seven agreements is the one that gives the Russians a special status on the Niš base. It’s a completely opaque agreement. Out of the blue they use a sofa [status of forces agreement] Template used by the USA for military bases. “

Jovo Bakic, a sociologist at Belgrade University, said: “The Kosovo problem is quite painful for the majority of Serbs and this is an opportunity for the government to thank Russia for not recognizing Kosovo.

“It is not often that presidents of powerful countries come to Serbia, and in the meantime it is important for Russia to show that it has friends in Europe. Of course, this could have happened without the parade. It is not really necessary to organize such an expensive event, but politicians – especially in Serbia – are not known to be sensible. “

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