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The threat of a new war in the Balkans forced Serbia to get closer to Moscow

The threat of a new war in the Balkans forced Serbia to get closer to Moscow

Tags: Balkans, Serbia, Russia, Europe, Politics, Armament, War, Sanctions, International relations, Analytics

The issue of the supply of modern weapons systems to Serbia was one of the main issues in the negotiations between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Vucic. Other political initiatives, for example, about the free trade area of ​​Serbia and the EEA, were also voiced. In the US and the EU, they are compelled to admit that the positions of the Russian Federation in the Balkans have increased. And for that there is a reason.

As Vucic himself stated during his visit to Russia, "military and technical cooperation between Moscow and Belgrade has reached an unprecedented level" and "there have been no such successful cooperation for decades".

If to be completely honest, then it's not about decades: in general, there has never been such cooperation in the military-technical sphere. And not only in the history of contacts between Russia and Serbia, but also Yugoslavia and the USSR. Theoretically, such a scale of deliveries of Russian military equipment and armaments to the Balkans can only be compared with what happened in the second half of the nineteenth century and before the First World War.

"A year ago we practically did not have our own air forces. We had two MiG-21 and two MiG-29, everything else was destroyed in previous conflicts, especially by Americans, "Vučić admitted. - For the last period we bought 11 helicopters, now there are negotiations to buy six more. For us, these are very large numbers. "

Also, Belgrade is going to purchase air defense systems from Russia. On this issue, now negotiations are under way between Serbian specialists and representatives of Rosoboronexport. At the same time, in October the Serbian Air Force received from the Russian Federation six MiG-29 fighters provided as military-technical assistance.

Moreover, as measures of support from Russia to Serbia will get a free T-tanks 30 72 and 30 combat reconnaissance patrol vehicles BRDM-2. Finally, in operation discussed supply systems "Buk-M1" and "Buk-M2", as well as anti-aircraft "Tunguska" gun-missile complex.

In general, the parameters of cooperation in this area were clear even earlier: the absolute innovation of the last days is unless deliveries of military transport helicopters. But Belgrade's interest in concluding an agreement on a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union is practically a sensation. This Vučić reported in the framework of his speech before the students of MGIMO.

"We have been working on this for a long time, we want to create a free trade zone with the EEA," he stressed. "I believe that the new agreement would make the best contribution to our relations." At the moment, I do not see any problems. "

In turn, Vladimir Putin, after talks with his colleague, said that the establishment of a FTA between the EEA and Serbia "will open new opportunities for the development of business ties."

And before, and now Vučić has repeatedly stressed that Serbia "is on the European path." But the paradox is that neither he, nor anyone at all in Belgrade, has really articulated what this ritual spell means in practical terms. For quite a long time he managed to paralyze the consciousness of Brussels and Washington with the help of this magic phrase, but it seems that the patience of the Americans has burst.

In the past few months, the Washington emissaries have become in an ultimatum, sometimes frankly boorish form, to demand that Belgrade take an unambiguous position. Brussels also began to guess that there was something wrong with this "Europolt way", and it seems that it does not lead to the very Europe in which it was planned. But the Europeans can not do anything with this, and the Americans have finally lost their cries and threats, which naturally causes a counter-reaction from the Serbs even at the domestic level.

Even now, Vučić once again stressed that Serbia will not join the anti-Russian sanctions under any circumstances. And he proposed turning his country into a major gas transit country, since it is so difficult to deal with some other countries because of pressure from the American side.

The theme of Kosovo was also raised in Moscow. Vladimir Putin, in particular, said that Russia will take any joint decision of Belgrade and Pristina on this issue. But he stressed that the situation should be settled politically, on the basis of the dialogue of the parties and in accordance with the resolution of the UN Security Council. In fact, this diplomatic wording means that Moscow supports Belgrade's position, since from the point of view of our European partners, the United States and Pristina (if anyone in general asked it), Kosovo is now an independent state. Serbia, however, insists on the resumption of the dialogue and the withdrawal of the province from its membership does not recognize.

Unlike many of its neighbors, Serbia intends to openly demonstrate its friendly relations with Moscow, which by the standards of the modern world is a bold enough step. For example, in the future 2018 year Belgrade will be at the highest level to participate in the events dedicated to 75-anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad, and in February will be celebrated 180-anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia. In addition, Vučić invited Putin to Belgrade to celebrate the 800 anniversary of the autocephalousness of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Presumably, the Russian president can take part in activities for the opening of the St. Sava Cathedral in Belgrade - a multi-year long-term construction, completion of which is expected in time for the anniversary. Vučić probably knows that presidential elections are scheduled for 18 March, but apparently he does not doubt their outcome.

For him, this was the first official visit to Moscow as head of state, and he tried to utter a maximum of friendly language, which would certainly provoke a new wave of criticism in the West. But the more inadequate pressure is exerted on Belgrade by Washington and Brussels, the more openly Vucic and his government show commitment to friendly relations with Russia.

Washington regards the situation as "the failure of American diplomacy". Talk about "Russian expansion in the Balkans" (especially against the background of the Montenegrin crisis and frozen conflicts in Macedonia) gradually stand on a par with the "Russian hackers." While this does not lead to a radicalization of the situation in the Balkans as a whole, but potentially such a threat exists, and Belgrade in advance tries to secure Russian support.

Somewhere in the background smoldered the most dangerous fire - the situation around the Republika Srpska, which is still planning to hold a referendum on the withdrawal from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Re-equipment of the Serbian army in this context is an urgent necessity, one can almost certainly say that Moscow will continue its policy of modernizing the republic's military potential. The current supply of arms is just the beginning.

Eugene Kroutikov
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