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Russia delivers air-defense systems to Serbia

February 22, 2020

The deal was agreed in 2019 despite Serbia's desire to join the EU. The rapid-fire system is intended for defense against cruise missiles, drones and aircraft.

Russian Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Dmitry

Russia has delivered Pantsir S1 air-defense systems to Belgrade, the Serbian Defense Ministry confirmed Saturday.

"Serbia strengthened its defensive and deterrent capabilities," the ministry said via a statement.

"In this way, our ability to remain militarily neutral is further strengthened, which is a fundamental security commitment of the Commander-in-Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vucic, our Government and the Assembly," the Ministry of Defense added.

President Vucic is known for his strongman characteristics and though he holds a ceremonial position in the Serbian government, he is still the Balkan country's most powerful politician.

The purchase of the defense systems, made up of radar, ground-to-air missiles and 30-mm cannon, was agreed last year. The rapid-fire system is intended for defense against cruise missiles, drones and aircraft at an altitude of up to 15,000 meters, as well as a range of up to 20 kilometers.

Close ties

The news comes just days after Russia's defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, visited Belgrade where he declared that the two nations had reached a "fundamentally” new level.

Serbia remains a key ally of Russia even though it is a European Union candidate country. Serbia has pledged to stay out of NATO and refused to join sanctions by the West against the Kremlin over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

jsi/aw (Interfax, dpa, Beta)

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