The European Union has spent much of the past decade divided and impotent, as it flailed its way through a series of seemingly never-ending crises. But Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine last week appears to have reenergized the bloc, leading to the emergence of a newly assertive EU bound together by a common enemy. European politics suddenly appear to have become the art of endless possibility, and regardless of how the war in Ukraine eventually plays out, the ripple effects of the past week’s events are likely to have a profoundly transformative impact on the continent.
Few countries, however, are likely to be affected as much as Serbia.
Although Serbia is officially a candidate for EU membership, the country’s strongman president, Aleksandar Vucic, has shown a half-hearted commitment to the bloc and its values. Instead, his relationship with Brussels has been purely transactional, and as part of that approach, he has built close ties with Moscow and Beijing so he can extract greater political and economic benefits from the EU by appearing to shift from West to East and back again, whenever it suits him.