Skopje, North Macedonia
In the West, it’s tempting to believe that revulsion at Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is universal, and that he’s receiving support only from a handful of miscreant countries like Venezuela, Syria and Iran. I wish this were true. I’m in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, where there’s much sympathy for Putin, which has only increased since the invasion began. This is despite the government in North Macedonia being pro-western and pretty decent when compared with its predecessors and many of its neighbours.
The reasons for North Macedonia’s Putin sympathy are complex. The country’s largest ethnic group are Slavs, whose language is close to Bulgarian. They don’t like how Nato bombed Serbia in the late 1990s, and they get much of their news from Serbian media, which can be very pro-Russian.