US is sanctioning the pro-Russian head of Serbian intelligence for alleged corruption
Jul 11, 2023, 8:30 AM
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. imposed sanctions on the pro-Russian head of Serbian intelligence on Tuesday, accusing Aleksander Vulin of involvement in illegal arms shipments, drug trafficking and misuse of public office.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said Vulin used his public authority to help U.S.-sanctioned Serbian arms dealer Slobodan Tesic move illegal arms shipments across Serbia’s borders. Vulin is also accused of involvement in a drug trafficking ring, Treasury said.
Vulin was appointed spy chief for the Balkan state last year.
He previously served as Serbia’s interior minister. In that role, he visited Moscow last August, a rare visit by a European state official that underscored Belgrade’s refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Vulin then told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that “Serbia is the only state in Europe that didn’t introduce sanctions and was not part of the anti-Russian hysteria.”
Serbia is a candidate for European Union membership, but its strained relationship with Kosovo has stymied its application and the nation has for years been drifting away from its EU path and toward allyship with Russia.
Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesperson, said the U.S. “will continue to hold accountable those who further their political agenda and personal gain at the expense of peace and stability in the Western Balkans and advance Russia’s malign activities in Serbia and the region.”