International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Vucic says no more buying of weapons, then announces new purchases

March 3, 2020

Although three months ago, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said his country would stop buying weapons, in an interview with an Israeli paper he announced a new purchase of "not a small quantity" of their arsenal, N1 reported on Tuesday.

The most money Serbia has spent for weapons recently went for the Russian helicopters, their anti-aircraft defence system, parts for the Russian-made MIG military planes… That raised some eyebrows in the West, and Belgrade was warned.

Matthew Palmer, the State Department special envoy for the Balkans, said that there was some concern over the Russian military equipment deployed in Serbia, which could lead to sanctions against Belgrade.

Following that statement and before meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vucic had a different comment about the reform of his army.

"That doesn't mean what people think, that we're buying arms. On the contrary, we will stop purchasing weapons," he said then.

And it stopped. Until Vucic went to Washington, where he talked to the Israeli 'Jerusalem Post' saying that Serbia wanted to buy arms from Israel and that wouldn't be "a small order."

In the meantime, before the trip to the US, Vucic had talks with a UK high-ranking army officer about the military cooperation between Britain and Serbia.

"The choice of arms producers is without doubt politically motivated and a way to affirm Serbia's international relations," Aleksandar Radic, a military analyst said.

"In the context of creating foreign policy references, Israel is the next stop – it doesn't matter what will be bought, it's important to buy. So, we can expect some purchase from the US. It would be the cherry on the cake which will make clear that when we speak about arms buying, it's not that important for the modernisation of the military and choice of equipment, but more for what that means in the foreign policy ambience," Radic said.

The purchase of arms is always linked to foreign policy, Katarina Djokic from the Belgrade Center for Security Policy agrees.

"However, this kind of balancing can be dangerous since it's expensive. You have different kind of weapons which are far more expensive to maintain in the long run. You have to buy different parts, train people for different types of maintenance… And all of that could be more damaging than useful to the army," she warned.

People N1 interviewed on the issue said that sending a message to Moscow that their arsenal wouldn't be the only one Serbia would buy, bore a specific risk too. Namely, in the next decades, Serbia must purchase spare parts for the weapons it has already bought from Russia.  

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a574648/Serbia-balances-in-choice-of-arms-and-equipment.html

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