Information that Aleksandar Vulin will be replaced by Marko Djuric, Serbia’s current ambassador to the U.S., at the helm of the Security and Information Agency (BIA) has raised the ire of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
He has denied that he will remove Vulin from the BIA leadership, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. and is one of Serbia’s most pro-Russian politicians.
“Maybe I was planning to replace him, but now I can’t,” Vucic said.
Commenting on speculation by some media that Vulin would soon be replaced, Vučić said such claims “extended his mandate.”
On July 11, the U.S. placed Vulin on the sanctions list on charges of involvement in drug trafficking, as well as links to Russia.
Afterwards, Vučić stated that the sanctions against Vulin were his responsibility because “I did not impose sanctions against Russia.”
U.S. Ambassador to Belgrade Christopher Hill stated on August 22 that the United States disagrees with Serbian authorities regarding the sanctions against Vulin, adding that Washington has a problem with his pro-Russian orientation.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s decision said Vulin had used his public posts to support Russia.
Before being appointed head of the BIA in December 2022, Vulin held the post of interior minister, and before that he was defense minister.
U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Brian E. Nelson said July 11 that Vulin is being held accountable for “corrupt and destabilizing actions that have also enabled Russia’s malign activities in the region.”
“By facilitating Russia’s malign activities that threaten the security and stability of the Western Balkans, it has provided Russia with a platform for further influence in the region,” the statement said.
Vulin, known for his close ties with Moscow, did not break relations even when Russia began invading neighboring Ukraine in February 2022.
The last time he was in Moscow, according to Russian state media, was May 24 as Serbia’s representative at an international security conference.
Vulin also was in Moscow in August 2022 as interior minister.
Vulin is also a proponent of Serbian nationalist rhetoric against its neighbors. The person close to Vucic had honored war criminals such as Slobodan Milosevic and Ratko Mladic./The Geopost/