Serbia plans “several military exercises” with Russia


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The Belgrade-based daily Danas is on Friday quoting unnamed sources who said that Serbia “plans to hold several military exercises with Russia,” informs.

This would take place despite the negative comments from the EU and the United States, the paper reported, and noted that last year’s drills held in Serbia with the participation of Russia’s Airborne Troops (VDV) also received criticism from the same quarters.

The article cites information obtained from “sources close to the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Army,” who said Serbia’s foreign policy has not changed “despite the Ukrainian crisis and EU’s demands to harmonize it with the European policy.”

That is the reason military exercises with Russia are planned for this year as well, the daily quoted its sources.

However, “there is still no precise information about their number, date, or location, as programs are still being determined,” writes Danas, and adds it was unofficially told by the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Army that “a final agreement on the military exercises will be reached in the coming days.”

The newspaper noted that Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Thursday met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “a day after” Kerry spoke about Serbia being “in the line of fire” when it comes to relations between Washington and Moscow, and added that the conversation took place face to face.

“There has not been more precise information what they spoke about, in the context of Kerry’s statement,” the daily said, adding that Kerry during the “official part of the meeting” stressed that Serbia was taking on “an increasingly important role in many respects.”

At the same time, Dacic told him that Serbia strives towards the EU and that its traditionally friendly relations with Serbia are “absolutely unrelated to its strategic orientation.”

The newspaper reminded its readers that a recent report filed by EP rapporteur for Serbia Dacic McAllister, due to be adopted next month, expressed concern over the fact Serbia and Russia held joint military exercises at the height of the tensions between the EU and Russia, and that this remark was made “in the context of the call to Serbia to harmonize its foreign policy and introduce sanctions against Russia.”

The first ever joint Serbian-Russian armed forces exercise was held in Nikinci northwest of Belgrade on November 14, 2014, and the daily said it was “interesting that information about this was kept secret, while the domestic public learned about it from the Russian Ministry of Defense.”

In July last year Serbia held military maneuvers with NATO countries as well – members of the armed forces of the U.S, Bulgaria, Romania, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, and Croatia. During the fall the VS held a military exercise with the marine forces of the U.S. European command and four regional countries.

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