Monday, August 25, 2014

Of Serbs and Symbolism

Having exhausted the excuse of "Russian invasion" to explain the setbacks in its "punitive expedition", the Kiev junta and its Western backers have seized upon another: it's the Serbs!

Balkan Insight, a propaganda outfit funded by the UK Foreign Office and the US State Department, reported last week on a group of Serb fighters bolstering the ranks of Novorussian militia - going on to praise the regime of Aleksandar Vučić for "neutrality" in Ukraine and commitment to obeying the orders from Brussels and Washington.
Serbian "Chetnik" volunteers in Novorussia (via Facebook)
While Vučić told BI that "dozens of Serbs can be seen fighting for both sides," those rumored to be fighting for Kiev junta (as no photos, names, or other evidence has ever been presented) are said to be mercenaries. Those who joined the Novorussian forces, however, have spoken out over social media - an accepted standard of evidence, according to the State Department - claiming that they fight out of principle, not for money.

Though the BI report mentions fourteen Serbs, social media sources claim the Serb fighters are numerous enough to have established their own unit, named "Yovan Shevich" (Јован Шевић), after a 18th-century Serbian cavalry officer from the Austrian Military Frontier who emigrated to Russia rather than convert to Catholicism. Officials of the government in Belgrade were apparently ignorant of Shevich, telling the local media they would issue a warrant for his arrest if he ever returned to Serbia (!).

Why such a fuss about these Serbs? Whether they number 14 or 140, there just isn't enough of them to turn the tide of battle - though the Novorussian forces seem to be doing just that right now - so it has to be something else. Could it be symbolism?

Serbia is supposed to be a conquered province, its "resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform" (Norris, 2005) crushed through an unprecedented UN blockade, NATO bombing and finally a prototype "color revolution" and electoral engineering, that have ensured the government in Belgrade always served its foreign masters first, and its people never.

Serbs are supposed to be a broken people, who see resistance and pointless and know they are conquered: at the end of July, U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby gave an interview to the local media demanding the Vučić government explicitly support Ukraine's unity, including the Crimea (which Vučić dutifully did a few days later). Kirby also mentioned the "problem" of Serb volunteers - while demanding an investigation into the deaths of several American Albanians who died as members of the "Kosovo Liberation Army" back in 1999. So, it's OK for Americans (of the Albanian kind) to volunteer for wars elsewhere, but not Serbs? Conquerors and conquered, you see - different rules.

Symbolism also helps explain why Brussels and Washington are so insistent on Serbia not exporting food to Russia at the moment. Hard-hit by the flooding this spring, Serbia is hardly in position to spare any food for export. Empire's demands, therefore, are intended to reinforce the established pattern of dominance and submission: Brussels and Washington order, Serbia obeys.

This would also have the benefit of giving the Empire's brute force a faux veneer of morality: see, if Serbia thinks sanctions against Russia are proper - the very Serbia that's Orthodox and harbors kinship with Russia, while it has been sanctioned, bombed and occupied by the West - then surely the West must be right and Russia is wrong.

And they would have gotten away with it, too, were it not for a handful of stubborn Serbs and the ghost of an 18th-century hussar.


Mabuballah said...

14, or 140, for that matter is pitifully little, but then that may just be the price Russians now pay for their abandonment of their brothers in the '90's under the corrupt and treasonous leadership of one Boris Yeltsin (who we might recall was bought by filthy money shovelled to him by Al Gore for the purpose of control). Thus Serbs and Serbia suffers the utmost disgrace under the thumb of the US and the EU to this day.
What I marvel that no one questions is the fact that US foreign policy is being set by the dictates of the EU. Just how (financially, of course) does that happen?

CubuCoko said...

It would not be the first time the Serbs have to fight for someone else's freedom before they can fight for their own. Maybe that's also what has the quislings and the Empire so scared...

As for the US and Europe, I would argue it's just the opposite - that the EU is being bankrupted by the US, because that's precisely what these "sanctions" are doing.

el swino said...

14 or 140 is the number that it is. Keep in mind that Serbia has a smaller population and does not share a border with eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, any trickle of volunteers is largely a solo effort by those involved and not being coordinated by any state or clandestine authorities. Volunteers would probably have to buy their own bus tickets to the airport let alone flights. This makes it especially difficult. Compare this to the flooding of recruits to fight Assad forces that was largely coordinated by several or more 'agencies' who provided all the necessary logistical support.

CubuCoko said...

Good points, all. I wasn't trying to say that the number is shamefully low - considering all the effort to break Serbia, even one volunteer is a miracle - but that it's objectively not large enough to have a major impact on war operations. It does, undeniably, have an impact on morale, both of the Novorussians and of the Empire.

Teddy said...

For months I've been following the influx of Serbian volunteers to the DPR & LPR.

According to the Russians, the largest group by far of Non-Russian volunteers are the Serbs.

Again, according to Russian and other sources, there are least 2 Battalions of Serbs fighting in the East.

Check out this latest RIA Novosti article:

And by the way the Serbs are kicking some ass:

CubuCoko said...

Тhanks, Meezer! That's good news.

Suvorov said...

It should also be remembered that Serbs were among the first settlers of Novorossia. Many were escaping Ottoman tolerance and multiculturalism in favor of Russian barbarism and oppression. They even formed a fairly large territory named Slavo-Serbia in the 18th century. It is situated precisely in today's Donetsk and Lugansk regions-at the epicenter of fierce fighting (Hey, I bet they haven't yet thought to blame Serbs for this one. Perhaps, because that would require some knowledge of history on their part). Hence, the toponyms such as Slavyanoserbsk. Curiously, there is also a place named Illyria in the Lugansk region.

CubuCoko said...

I sort of touched on that when I mentioned Shevich, but thank you for elaborating. I'd like to think the Serbs would have gone to fight there anyway, just on principle, but the history of the area certainly gives it a national heritage dimension.

I've actually had to correct some over-enthusiastic Serbs a few months back, who had thought Slavyansk was Slavyanoserbsk. The latter has been in junta hands all along - though the most recent reports seem to indicate it was liberated, and by the Serb volunteers no less...

balkaninfo said...

Serbian volunteers were also in Crimea and met a Vice News reporter there. They told him that they want to help because Russian volunteers helped them during the Balkan wars. According to "South Front" there are over 200 Serbian volunteers.

"DPR Militia forces were enhanced by 205 Serbian volunteers, joined the special fighting unit."

In the 90's Serbs and Russians were fighting together against nazis that were armed and trained by Germany and the US, too. At least one of those is now in the nazi death squad "Azov".

"46-year-old Frenchman Gaston Besson ... In 1991, the same mercenary killed Serbs in Croatia, then - in Bosnia.
Europeans were offered to hunt civilians in Serbian Krajina and Croatia. The price was $3000 (1995). Hunters were offered bullet-proof jackets, ammunition and rifles with optical guidance. Hunters – «international brigades of Croatian army» guaranteed security. Rape and plundering were offered for special pay. The clients were mainly ethnic Croats from Australia, Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Austria, as well as European felons and Neo-Nazi. Gaston Besson started his business and combat experience there to continue to do what he likes most in Ukraine now."

"European neo-Nazis fight on Croatian side"