In the last elections, the Putinists win, but Putin loses
At the heart of a war in Europe, a vote took place last Sunday in two countries a few kilometers from the war front.
In Hungary as in Serbia, two populist leaders, the only Putinists, have been largely confirmed by voters.
In a climate of general political isolation in which the Russian Federation has found itself since the day of the invasion of Ukraine, these results would appear at first sight to be a victory for Vladimir Putin, a victory for him on the front of the ‘opponent.
But let’s say that, despite the look, it is not so.
Freshly re-elected, Viktor Orban said he had never had so many enemies as now and listed the “Brussels bureaucrats”, the essential Soros empire, the international media and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Hungarian government, in fact, is the only one in the entire European Union that has refused to be part of the sanctions against Russia and has opposed sending arms to the Ukrainian resistance.
But, as I just said, he is the only one! Orban, like Putin, is now in a situation of political isolation.
He also broke the alliance with the allies of the Visegrad Group, a coalition of states united by populism, euroscepticism and the theory of “illiberal democracy”, as opposed to Western liberalism, also theorized by Vladimir Putin.
The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are not only at the forefront of welcoming Ukrainian refugees, but are also among the staunchest supporters of NATO and the strongest supporters of the resistance led by Zelensky.
As a reminder, they were the only European leaders to defy the Russian bombs to show their solidarity with the Ukrainian president by going to meet him in kyiv.
Therefore, if Orban is now like an infiltrator in the European Union and is not sure that he can again take a last minute step back to avoid exclusion, the real loser of this political turning point is Vladimir Putin.
In fact, the Russian leader had found in the Visegrad group the most compact nucleus of the “illiberal International”, which he created himself by financing populist movements and far-right parties, from Le Pen to France, to the “Afd” in Germany. , to “Lega”, “Fratelli d’Italia” and “5 Star Movement” in Italy.
An attack on the heart of European democracy, brought by Western countries and supported until recently by US President Donald Trump through his ideologist Steve Bannon, who, before being indicted in the United States, was ready to to move to Europe, precisely for the expansion of this “International”.
And now Orban is isolated in a European pact with NATO and the United States and in strong and decisive support for Ukraine, against the occupation of the Russian Federation.
What path will Hungary, a country with a weak economy that lives mainly on funds from the hated Brussels, take? Will he choose to return to the Soviet past? And, in this case, will the Hungarians really be ready to follow this path?
Putin, meanwhile, sees the blurring of his populist strategy which was to lead to the disintegration of the West for lack of allies and solidarity within it.
The situation regarding the elections in Serbia is different.
President Aleksandar Vuçiç, after winning the presidential and administrative elections, confirmed the usual policy of ambiguity, which he is used to following on the international scene: “I believe that we will have to meet many challenges, but the most important thing for Serbia is to have good relations in the region and to continue on its European path. Without breaking ties with his traditional friends. We will continue with military neutrality”.
He is accustomed, as they say, to the “good lamb drinks two mothers” policy. And so far, it has worked!
The traditional friend of the Serbs is Russia. The two countries are deeply linked by language, religion, history, economy, and military and security agreements.
But above all they are bound by this pan-Slavic ideology which, as Kosovars, Bosnians, Croats and Montenegrins well know, is aggressive, imperialistic and based on ethnic homogeneity.
It is no coincidence that the government in Belgrade refused to participate in the Western sanctions package against Moscow, and Serbia was the only country where, at the beginning of the Russian occupation, mass demonstrations in favor of Putin and of Moscow were observed.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Special Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell have repeatedly expressed concern about the spread of Russian tensions in the Western Balkans .
And these alarms came precisely from the presence in the Balkans of Serbia’s policy and its claims on Kosovo, which have never been extinguished since the end of the war in Yugoslavia.
Brussels, on the basis of the alarm given, immediately sent several hundred soldiers to Bosnia to reinforce the European mission and keep control of Republika Srpska, where Dodik threatens daily with separatist actions.
The Pristina government has sought to join NATO, which has just opened a military base in Albania.
What is really troubling for the EU in the region is Serbia with its policy, which Europe is probably watching closely for the first time since the end of the war in the Balkans, as well as Russian warships stationed in the Mediterranean for several months.
In the Balkans, the socio-economic situation of many countries is far from stable and many border issues of ethnic coexistence are still open since the end of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
And it is here that Putin, struggling on the Ukrainian front, could use the Serbs to ignite conflicts that have not been extinguished for decades.
For this reason, without a doubt, the priority is the war front in Ukraine.
But particular attention will be paid in the very near future to European policies with Serbia and to opening real doors to Albania and North Macedonia.
Strengthening the Eastern Front is today the political and military priority of a Europe threatened since the end of the Second World War.