Romania says Russian military equipment for Serbia blocked

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania has blocked a Russian military shipment of battle tanks and armored vehicles to Serbia because of international sanctions that are in place against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that it could not issue a transit permit for the shipment due to a European Union embargo introduced in 2014. The statement gave no more details.

Serbian officials complained earlier this month that NATO-member Romania had prevented the delivery of some 60 Russian secondhand tanks and armored vehicles that were to be shipped from Russia via the Danube River to Serbia.

Media reports say Russia flew 10 armored vehicles to Serbia this week on its air force transport planes.

Russia has been helping its ally Serbia beef up its military, raising concerns in the Balkan region. In the 1990s during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia was at war with neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Serbia has already received six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia. Serbia, which claims military neutrality, is negotiating additional arms purchases from Russia, including attack and transport helicopters and air defense systems.

Serbia formally wants to join the EU, but under political and propaganda pressure from Moscow, Belgrade has steadily slid toward the Kremlin and its goal of keeping the countries in the region out of NATO.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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