Serbia displays Chinese missiles amid concerns in Balkans

Serbia on Saturday publicly displayed a just lately delivered Chinese anti-aircraft missile system, elevating considerations within the West and amongst a few of Serbia’s neighbours that an arms buildup within the Balkans may threaten fragile peace within the area.

The subtle HQ-22 surface-to-air system was delivered final month by a dozen Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes in what was believed to be the largest-ever airlift supply of Chinese arms to Europe.

Although Serbia formally seeks membership within the European Union, it has been arming itself largely with Russian and Chinese weapons, together with T-72 battle tanks, MiG-29 fighter jets, Mi-35 assault helicopters and drones.

HQ-22 anti-aircraft methods on the Batajnica army airport close to Belgrade, Serbia. (AP)

Back in 2020, US officers warned Belgrade in opposition to buying HQ-22 missile methods, whose export model is named FK-3.

They mentioned that if Serbia actually desires to affix the EU and different Western alliances, it should align its army tools with Western requirements.

The Chinese missile system has been extensively in comparison with the American Patriot and the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile methods though it has a shorter vary than extra superior S-300s.

Serbia is the primary operator of the Chinese missiles in Europe.

HQ-22 anti-aircraft methods on the Batajnica army airport close to Belgrade, Serbia. (AP)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic evaluations the honour guard throughout a welcome ceremony on April 30, 2022. (AP)

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned on the finish of the arms show at a army airport close to Belgrade that the Chinese missiles, in addition to different just lately delivered army {hardware}, aren’t a menace to anybody and solely characterize a “powerful deterrent” in opposition to potential attackers.

“We will no longer allow to be a punching bag for anyone,” Vucic mentioned, apparently referring to NATO’s 78-day bombardment of Serbia for its bloody crackdown in opposition to Kosovo Albanian separatists in 1999.

Serbia, which was at battle with its neighbours within the Nineteen Nineties, doesn’t recognise Kosovo’s independence declared in 2008. It nonetheless has frosty relations with NATO-members Croatia and Montenegro in addition to Bosnia, whose separatist Bosnian Serb chief Milorad Dodik attended the army drill on Saturday.

A helicopter flies by Serbian Army troopers acting at Batajnica army airport close to Belgrade, Serbia. (AP)
Serbian Army troopers carry out through the army workout routines close to Belgrade, Serbia. (AP)

Vucic mentioned Serbia can be negotiating a purchase order of French multi-purpose Dessault Rafale jets, in addition to British Eurofighter Typhoon fighters.

He mentioned that solely “political hurdles” may stop the acquisition of the Western plane.

There are widespread considerations that Russia may push its ally Serbia into an armed battle with its neighbours to attempt at the least partly to shift public consideration from the battle in Ukraine.

Serbian Army troopers carry out through the army workout routines on Batajnica army airport close to Belgrade, Serbia. (AP)

Although Serbia has voted in favour of UN resolutions that condemn the bloody Russian assaults in Ukraine, it has refused to affix worldwide sanctions in opposition to its allies in Moscow or outright criticise the obvious atrocities dedicated by the Russian troops in Ukraine.

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