Serbia to Take Part in NATO Drills With Russian Weapons
As Serbia has signed an agreement with Moscow to buy Russian weapons, Serbian soldiers are preparing to participate in US-led NATO drills. Serbia’s policy of balancing between Russia and the West is due the country’s doctrine of military neutrality adopted in 2007. However, experts say that sooner or later Belgrade will have to choose a side.
During his visit to Moscow, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic reached an agreement with Moscow on the purchase of Russian weapons. At the same time, Serbian troops are getting ready to participate in a NATO military exercise in Germany.Experts say military ties with Russia will not endanger Serbia’s European perspective, but warn that balancing between Moscow and the West cannot be a long-term policy.
Serbia’s decision to buy Russian arms will not be a great concern for the EU as Serbian officials have repeatedly said that EU membership remains the strategic goal, Zoran Dragisic, a security studies professor in Belgrade, told Balkan Insight.
“Serbian officials have told the same thing to their Russian partners. However, Serbia is not a member of the EU at the moment and is trying to sit in two chairs. I do not think it is possible in the long run,” he said.
Military analyst Aleksandar Radic also said that the purchase of Russian weapons by Serbia is unlikely to worsen relations with the West.
“There is no need to think it will worsen our relations with the EU because Serbia cooperates with NATO a lot more than it does with Russia when it comes to military drills and equipment,” Radic was quoted as saying by Balkan Insight.
According to Vucic, Serbia intends to buy Russian weapons and military equipment to maintain “a security balance” in the region, after Croatia purchased new military hardware.
However, Vucic underscored that Serbia will not buy offensive weapons.
According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Russian and Serbian officials signed a memorandum of understanding that
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