‘Special humiliation’ for Serbia to be dragged into NATO after fatal US bombings – Zakharova

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova © Maksim Blinov
NATO’s promise of security and attempts to drag Serbia into the alliance are humiliating for the Balkan country at a time when two of its diplomats held hostage in Libya were killed in a pin-point US airstrike, Russia’s FM spokeswoman said.

On Friday, US airstrikes against positions of an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) affiliate group in Sabratha, Libya, killed more than 40 people including two Serbian nationals held hostage by the jihadists. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said the death of two embassy workers was “terrible collateral damage” and demanded explanations from Washington.

On Sunday, speaking on the Rossiya 1 TV channel, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Washington keeps accusing Russia of bombing civilian targets, providing no evidence whatsoever, and at the same times behaves as if nothing has happened when their own strikes result in confirmed civilian deaths.

Zakharova noted that just a few days after the disinformation campaign, which accused Russia of striking an MSF-supported medical facility in Idlib province of Syria, a US anti-terrorist air raid conducted in Libya without authorization “killed two Serbian embassy staff.”

The US government should have known that two Serbian hostages were being held by IS affiliates in Libya, Zakharova said, as the Serbian government had shared their information with US intelligence agencies prior to the strikes.

“The most tragic is that this information was given to the FBI and CIA. This is what the Serbian authorities said,” Zakharova noted, adding that the US is now “denying” knowledge of the hostages whereabouts.

Zhakarova questioned how the US can promise Serbia security once they have joined NATO, if Washington can’t avoid doing things such as striking targets that have been red flagged ahead of time. In this case, by Serbia concerning its diplomats.

“What security [guarantees]? What are you [US] talking about?” she asked rhetorically, calling the situation a “special form of humiliation.”

“This is an imposition of the Stockholm syndrome [on Serbia], when they force their victims to love them and admit publicly that they want to be with them,” the spokesperson said.

“This is a special kind of perversion,” Zakharova repeated.

Serbia witnessed a mass wave of demonstrations on Saturday, prompted by the government signing a deal guaranteeing diplomatic immunity and free movement to NATO troops.

Thousands of people across the country rejected the deal as unconstitutional and against the will of the Serbian people.

While PM Vucic has defended the decision, saying, “Serbia is maintaining its sovereignty and wants to cooperate both with NATO and with the Russian Federation,” critics from the ultra-conservative nationalist Zavet and Obraz movements promised to launch a legal appeal against the treaty.