AWhen it was confirmed in January that the US wanted to supply 246 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Kosovo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said it would now speed up its own rearmament, with the government “immediately” committing US$186 million in special funds. Euros are available for purchase from the domestic arms industry. In the list of purchases, the head of state named, in particular, howitzers, anti-drone equipment and helicopters.
Serbia will spend more on weapons than ever before, he said, also mentioning two packages worth more than half a billion euros that will be spent on weapons in addition to the 360 million euros provided for in the budget. Serial production of combat drones will soon begin in Serbia. Vucic promised the generals that the army would receive more than 1,000 of them in 2024.
There is more money for weapons than our neighbors combined
When the Serbian president, in love with statistics, juggles numbers, his statements should be treated with a certain degree of caution, since reality does not always correspond to what is announced. But Vučić’s raw enthusiasm isn’t booking plane tickets either. In addition to large orders for domestic arms manufacturers, which emerged from Yugoslavia’s highly efficient military industry and have long begun exporting weapons to Africa and Asia, Serbia also continues to be active in international procurement activities. The purchase of Chinese combat drones, as well as the Chinese FK-3 air defense system, which is considered an adaptation of the Russian S-300 system, has made the Balkan state the only major European customer for the Chinese arms industry.
Russian MiG-29 planes and tanks were also on Vucic’s shopping list when Moscow still had export capabilities. According to the International Peace Research Institute SIPRI in Stockholm, Serbia has spent more money on weapons in recent years than all the other five Western Balkan states combined. Serbian journalists recently reported that Serbia has invested almost 2.9 billion euros in modernizing the army since 2014, when Vucic became prime minister. A considerable sum for a Balkan state with a population of less than seven million people.
Rhetoric is also improving. Since Azerbaijan retook Nagorno-Karabakh last year, Vucic has often called Baku a role model and expressed admiration for Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev. This happened recently in an interview with the Serbian program of the Russian propaganda channel Sputnik. In the 1990s, Azerbaijan was too weak to wage a successful war against Armenia and its then patron power, Russia, the most powerful Belgrade politician since Tito lectured.
But the Caucasian state did everything right: it strengthened the economy, the army and, above all, the special forces, and patiently waited for decades for the geopolitical situation to change before striking at the right moment. “When you see that you have no strength, you must take all the blows on your back,” Vucic said, pointing to a way out: “It’s possible to accept what you have to accept and wait for the moment when you get a different result.” . “
KFOR presence in Kosovo remains a deterrent
It was clear to his audience what he meant. Nationalists have been talking about this openly for a long time. If the global political situation changes in Serbia’s favor, for example due to defeat in Ukraine and Donald Trump’s election victory, the moment may come for Serbia to retake the Serb-populated north of Kosovo through military action. Ten years ago, as former Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic recently said, everyone in the world thought the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan was over, but then everything changed very quickly. The lesson, according to Jeremic, is that Kosovo cannot be lost forever: “International circumstances change.”
Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine