Serbia Seeks to Purchase More Warplanes to Strengthen its Armed Forces, Potentially from Russia

Serbia is seeking to further strengthen its armed forces by purchasing more warplanes, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday. Vucic made the statement while visiting an army tank brigade in Sremska Mitrovica in Serbia’s autonomous province of Vojvodina. “We cannot keep track of the gifts and donations that certain NATO counties in the neighborhood are getting from the United States, Germany and other countries and therefore we must fight alone to preserve the peace alone and to preserve our future alone,” Vucic said. Vucic did not specify what warplanes Belgrade plans to buy but said the intention is the safety of his country and the stability and peace in the Balkan region. “We, as a military neutral country, want to preserve our military neutrality, which means that we look after our sky alone, to look after our country alone. We will invest money and I believe that we, by not wanting to participate in any sort of race, will always be able to guarantee safety, stability but also peace,” Vucic continued. Pro-government media reported that Serbia had officially asked the United States for 20 fighter-bombers, but Washington had not responded to the request.  The report, however, speculated that in case of a U.S. refusal, Serbia was likely to purchase “Sukhoi-25” attack aircraft from Russia. “The Americans, Turks and Germans are taking care of their beloved child,” Vucic said, referring to Kosovo. He said Washington had recently equipped Kosovo’s security forces with armored vehicles. Although claiming Serbia’s military neutrality, Belgrade has recently received a sophisticated anti-aircraft system from Russia, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, and armored vehicles. Serbia has also obtained military drones from another ally, China. The U.S. has said that it would impose sanctions against Serbia if Moscow sends more arms to the country, which could threaten the security of neighboring NATO members.