Serbia set to buy Russian missiles despite US sanctions hint

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a news conference after a meeting with Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S.Department of State – Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. The U.S. has intensified efforts to help relaunch stalled talks on normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo, a former province whose 2008 declaration of independence Belgrade does not recognize. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russia will deliver a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system to Serbia even though the U.S. has warned of possible sanctions against the Balkan country in the event of such purchases.

Russia’s state TASS news agency said Wednesday that the Pantsir-S system will be delivered to Serbia “in the next few months in accordance with the signed contract.”

The U.S.’s special envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, warned Serbia last week that the purchase of Russian weapons “poses a risk” of U.S. sanctions.

“We hope that our Serbian partners will be careful about any transactions of this kind,” Palmer said in an interview with Macedonian television Alsat M.

Serbia remains a key ally of Russia even though it wants to join the European Union. Belgrade has pledged to stay out of NATO and refused to join Western sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has been helping Serbia beef up its military with fighter jets, attack helicopters and battle tanks, raising concerns in the war-scarred Balkan region. During the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia was at war with neighbors Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a state TV interview on Tuesday that Serbia is purchasing defensive weapons from the Russians and that he wants to avoid any U.S. sanctions “or confrontation with America.”

“Serbia is arming itself because it is a free country surrounded by NATO-member states with which we want to be friends,” Vucic said, adding he won’t allow Serbia to “be as weak as it was in the 1990s.”

Serbia was bombed by NATO in 1999 to stop a bloody crackdown against Kosovo Albanians, an experience that left Serbs with a deep mistrust of the Western military alliance. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade and Moscow don’t recognize.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Videos

Monday: Increasing Wind With Some Afternoon Sun

Thumbnail for the video titled "Monday: Increasing Wind With Some Afternoon Sun"

Synchronized Skating

Thumbnail for the video titled "Synchronized Skating"

Dickinson State Football

Thumbnail for the video titled "Dickinson State Football"

Top Plays

Thumbnail for the video titled "Top Plays"

ND Outdoors 11-17

Thumbnail for the video titled "ND Outdoors 11-17"

Suspect Loose

Thumbnail for the video titled "Suspect Loose"

Unattended Cars

Thumbnail for the video titled "Unattended Cars"

Recycling

Thumbnail for the video titled "Recycling"

Berthold Holiday Drive

Thumbnail for the video titled "Berthold Holiday Drive"

Robert's One Minute Forecast 11-17

Thumbnail for the video titled "Robert's One Minute Forecast 11-17"

Baby Event

Thumbnail for the video titled "Baby Event"

Hospice Tree Lighting

Thumbnail for the video titled "Hospice Tree Lighting"

Ryan Fans

Thumbnail for the video titled "Ryan Fans"

College Football

Thumbnail for the video titled "College Football"

WDA Volleyball

Thumbnail for the video titled "WDA Volleyball"

Girl's State Swimming

Thumbnail for the video titled "Girl's State Swimming"

Holiday Cooking

Thumbnail for the video titled "Holiday Cooking"

Winter Pet Safety

Thumbnail for the video titled "Winter Pet Safety"

Harvey Driver's Office

Thumbnail for the video titled "Harvey Driver's Office"
More Video

KX News Trending Stories

Don't Miss

Daily Pledge

More Daily Pledge