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Monday, February 19, 2018

The visit of the Prime Minister of Serbia in Russia caused by a military threat emanating from NATO

Is not fully known, did the Prime Minister of Serbia from Vladimir Putin a historic agreement on deliveries to the country’s missile defense systems and air defense. But the fact of the negotiations said in favor of this, in addition, Belgrade is simply no other way. Now the NATO countries and the United States armed literally to the teeth, the historical enemy of the Serbs – Croats, and therefore, political uncertainty in Serbia ended.

Initially, the Protocol of the visit, Vucic has not been spelled out a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. It is as if “expected”, especially as the voyage of the Serbian Prime Minister was extremely long for this kind of event is three full working days. The second of them was completely dedicated to visit the forum “Open innovations”, in which Vucic was just sitting next to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who yesterday discussed the practical problems and prospects of economic relations between the two countries (in this case, both the Prime Minister mainly spoke about the increasing turnover of agricultural goods). Perhaps it is true that this event was much more productive for an impressive delegation of Serbian Ministers and businessmen, who survived brought with them.

“In the end, this can actually lead not only to an arms race in the Balkans, but also to serious changes in the entire system of Serbian foreign policy views”

In all this was an obvious political aspect. For the past year, the West has put unprecedented pressure on Belgrade, so that he joined the anti-Russian sanctions. The same Vucic was forced to maneuver to find words and a couple of times his statements were perceived as explicitly anti-Russian. In the words of the Serbian government really allowed the accession to the sanctions, but as soon as one or the other emissary of the USA, EU or NATO left Belgrade, disavowed his statements. It caused irritation and bewilderment, active discussion about the instability of the Serbian government, on its “fluctuating” course and, as a consequence, about the advisability of reliance on Belgrade in the Balkan policy of Russia.

Based on the relationship took so-called energy approach is an obsolete idea that a singular reference to Eastern European countries to Russian gas and oil almost the only thing that they can if not influence, then at least cooperation. By the way, this view actively circulate and Serbian liberal media, with an emphasis on “energy needle” and are happy to quote Russian publications of the same content almost as the quintessence of relations between Russia and Serbia.

If to approach formally, the talks between Vucic and Medvedev really were mostly around the obvious economic issues. Nevertheless, it is widely discussed topic of the “Turkish stream” and other virtues of energy was not the main and agricultural issues prevailed against guarantees of Belgrade not to support anti-Russian sanctions. Much more important was the issue of military-technical cooperation, and in a completely unexpected for the Western observer context.

Parallel talks between Russian Vice-Premier and Chairman of the Board of the Military-industrial Commission Dmitry Rogozin and Serbian foreign Minister Ivica Dacic was held exclusively in secret, behind closed doors. Dacic, by the way, not only foreign Minister but also Deputy Prime Minister, responsible in particular for military-technical cooperation, so that his conversation with Rogozin was clearly “the profile”. Namely, around a large-scale program of rearmament of the Serbian army, including the possible establishment of Serbia’s completely new kind of troops – missile defense. In this case it was not clear how these discussions will end. From their Exodus, in fact, depended the very possibility of concluding the meeting with Vucic, Putin, as all projects for final approval for VTS only the President of the Russian Federation. Especially such expensive and large-scale that could affect the entire military-political situation in the Balkans.

Perhaps Vucic was really keen to raise the bar of the negotiations, what is called the “heat rate”, when in Serbia began to receive leaks about the prospects of purchasing Russian air and missile defense systems. The General re-equipment of the Serbian army (in the first place, howitzer artillery, which quickly took the wheelset from KAMAZ and BTR strengthening the local production of “Lazar-2” Russian artillery systems) was decided in advance. This alone caused irritation and NATO, and Pro-Western part of Serbian media. It was stated, inter alia, that all this will put the Serbian army dependent on Russian components and, thus, put an end to the plans to join the Alliance.

The question of the creation of a missile defense the new type was a real bomb capable of blowing up public opinion in the Republic.

Serbia more than 10 years engaged in the modernization and reformation of the army under modern standards. Absent military doctrine, tactics, was not formulated, what are the threats for the country. The impetus for Belgrade has become a large-scale rearmament of Croatia, which, among other things, will receive the American multi-purpose helicopters Kiowa and tactical missiles.

Meanwhile, Vucic – comes from the Serbian radical party Vojislav Seselj, 17 consecutive years was its Secretary General. The house of his relatives in Croatia burned. The threat from the West for him is not something abstract. And it does not matter how impossible or possible new armed conflict in the region, but Croatia is the first to start the arms race, and bringing it into the sphere, which has not been previously involved. So not Russia “forced” Belgrade re-equipment of its army, and the situation around. And now Serbia is addressing issues of defense, as hard as it was for her nor from an economic point of view.

The details of such agreement will never be made public immediately after the signing or endorsement by the heads of state and government. This process is complex and long. For example, the agreement on the supply of Serbia Russian helicopters are already in force, one is expected to arrive in Belgrade before the end of the year, but now we are talking about the increase of the contract and the possible supply of two dozen modern attack helicopters, is able to compete with the “Kiowa”.

The same goes for a missile defense system-air defense. Vucic himself was Minister of defence, he is extremely gifted and educated man, and it is difficult to imagine that it “floats” in the military-technical issues. However, in all the leaks that have emanated from Belgrade sources is exceptionally close to the Prime Minister, stated that the government has not decided, against what types of missiles still need protection. “Vucicevic” sources talked about certain missiles with a ballistic trajectory, but local experts claim that the threat will come from tactical missiles. He never mentioned Croatia in vain.

Meanwhile, from Croatia to the Pentagon has already left a request to purchase 16 М270 combat vehicles MLRS MLRS caliber 227 mm “from the presence” (that is supported, “warehouses”). If the delivery is approved by Congress, the Croats themselves will get the launcher for free, but will have to purchase tactical missiles MGM-140 to them. with a range of 300 km. In fact this thing is a modern version of “Grad” (Russian equivalent is called “Tornado”), no ballistic trajectory of its missiles, of course, do not possess. But their presence in Croatia would mean the possibility of strikes deep into enemy (read: Serb) territory, which in itself radically changes the military-strategic situation in the region. For the army, which is not intended to conduct offensive operations, it is burdensome, unnecessary toy. Formally, the Croats justify this purchase by upgrading to NATO standards – replacement of old systems MLRS still Yugoslav production. But the justification is weak.

At the same time Croatia will have German self-propelled guns 155 mm/52 calibre PzH 2000, i.e. this is also an offensive ranged weapons. This purchase was for Serbia the impetus for the acquisition from Russia of the symmetric howitzer “Nora” with a pair of wheels of the raised passableness (up to 35 tons payload). Slavonia – troubled border between Croatia and Serbia, it’s corn fields and bad roads, where a lot of dirt and clay.

Thus, talking about the new Serbian system originated as a response to Croatian purchases of American MLRS. But unilateral and in no way motivated Croatian military preparations prompted the government Vucic on full revaluation of challenges for Serbia. Another attempt to look again at what is happening “the hand of Moscow” at least strange. But in the end it really can not only lead to an arms race in the Balkans, but also to serious changes in the entire system of Serbian foreign policy views. Perhaps the period of the eternal vacillation between the two systems for Serbia will end, as it attempts to maneuver between different political trends in Europe.

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