Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić received a part of the 30 tanks donated by Russia in a military ceremony on Saturday in Niš. He stated that this military aid will strengthen Serbia’s combat readiness and its military neutrality, N1 reported.
“These are incomparably better tanks than our old tanks and they make a difference in the field. They have a better steering system, ballistic protection, our armour officers are happy and I believe these tanks will contribute to the stronger combat readiness,” Vučić said, stressing that the delivered 11 T-72 MS Russia-made battle tanks were not purchased but donated.
He thanked Russian President Vladimit Putin and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, adding that Serbia is expecting more tanks and combat vehicles to arrive from Russia, in order to “further strengthen and enhance the idea of military neutrality, which has become a part of our political beliefs, as we believe it would be the best if we protected our skies and rivers by ourselves.”
Serbia has refused to become a NATO member and is Russia’s closest ally in the region, bordering NATO members.
In July, Serbia received military drones and missiles from China. In April, it said it received 11 planes with coronavirus aid from Russia, including 87 military medics and “16 pieces of military equipment”. Shortly before, Vučić had blasted the European Union for lack of help, while praising China and “brother” President Xi Jinping. The statement was followed by aid coming from the EU and even more aid from China.
“We got drones that are equipped and can carry out offensive actions. When we have all that solved, we can say the army is absolutely ready to defend from a potential aggressor,” Vučić stressed on Saturday.
His statement of two weeks ago over potential armed conflict with Kosovo prompted its leaders to call for NATO and EU support.
Vučić highlighted Serbia’s need to acquire anti-tank weapons and a missile defense system for “disruption of the actions of others.”
Serbia is expecting the delivery of medium-range, radar-guided, surface to air missiles from China. The contract also includes the delivery of armed drones. This would make it the first purchase of such equipment in Europe.
On Saturday, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko told President Vučić that Russia will “gladly” continue delivering vehicles and other types of arms to Serbia.