In this report, Professor Dr Marlene Laruelle and Dr Helena Ivanov investigate the level and
underlying causes of pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia and Hungary. Both countries have been
noted for their approach to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On one hand, Hungarian PM Viktor
Orbán continuously frustrates the European Union’s coordinated campaign against Russia and
keeps calling for the cancellation of sanctions. At the same time, Serbia has not imposed any
sanctions against Russia and is increasingly known for its balancing act in this conflict.
How should the EU react to these divergent approaches to Russia and try to protect its
unity? To answer this question, this report examines the actual level of support for Russia.
The report concludes that public opinion in each country differs a lot in the perceptions of
Russia, and that while we can talk of a genuine Russophilia in Serbia, Hungarians are much
more polarised on their relationship to Moscow and the pro-Russian stance is limited to the
Fidesz realm. But in both cases, the main finding is that a lot of this pro-Russian sentiment is
driven by the general disappointment in the West.
To improve the perceptions held by Hungarians and Serbs about the West, the report proposes
two novel policies. The first argues that the EU should provide direct financial help to Serbs
and Hungarians to combat the energy cost crisis. The second suggests that EU and Western
politicians need to change their tone when speaking to Hungarians and Serbs as well as their
respective political representatives.