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Russia invest in Serbian defense infrastructure

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Serbia closed a considerable armaments deal with Russia on Wednesday.

The deal is described both as “historic” and “a donation” that will boost the country’s defense. But, Prime Minister Aleksandr Vucic is keen to underplay its overall strategic significance, evoking the term “neutrality” to describe Serbia’s relationship between Russia, the EU, and NATO.

Russia will supply six MiG fighter jets, 30 T-72 tanks, and 30 combat vehicles, for approximately €230 million, AP reports. The sum is intended to upgrade MiG fighter jets rather than pay for the value of these advanced weapon systems.

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The base value of the jet-fighters alone is over €550 million, DW reports.

“We will have an advantage over those who would perhaps think of threatening Serbia in the future; we are not threatening anyone,” Vucic said. Weak economies in the Western Balkans have even NATO member states to modest levels of security development.

Serbia is a candidate for EU accession country, although Belgrade does not seek NATO membership. Since NATO bombed Serbia in 1999, the country has not come to terms with the Euro-Atlantic community, although since 2006 Serbia has signed onto NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

However, Belgrade is willing to develop a degree of interoperability with Russian forces. During a meeting with Vucic, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has proposed trilateral tactical exercises with Belarus dubbed “Slavic brotherhood,” Reuters reports.

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