UPDATE - Serbia, Unlike NATO Neighbors, Buys Defensive Weapons - President Vucic

BELGRADE (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 13th January, 2022) Serbia buys only defensive weapons, the country remains neutral in military terms, unlike its NATO neighbors, who also acquire offensive weapons, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said.

He said in December that the country's defense budget, which is planned for 2022 in the amount of more than 1.1 billion Euros ($1.26 billion), will be further increased by another 500 million euros to buy equipment and weaponry. In 2022-2023, Belgrade plans to buy about 30 helicopters: 11 H-145s (Airbus), four Mi-35s, three Mi-17s, and 11 Mi-35s previously used by an EU member state.

Overnight to Thursday, in an interview with national television, Vucic answered the question why the arming of Serbia worries its neighbors, especially Croatia.

"They are allowed to arm themselves because they are in NATO. And we, a freedom-loving and militarily neutral state, cannot defend ourselves? They buy offensive weapons, but they are worried because we are buying defensive weapons. They are not worried about the Patria AMV and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (armored vehicles purchased by Croatia), they are not worried about the 12 Rafale (fighters bought by Croatia)," he said.

Serbia is the largest importer of Russian weapons and military equipment in Europe. In December 2021, Kornet anti-tank systems purchased in Russia arrived in the country. Over the past few years, Russia has transferred to Serbia 30 modernized T-72MS tanks, 30 BRDM-2 armored vehicles, seven Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters, and six MiG-29 fighters.

Belgrade also bought Pantsir-S1 missile and gun systems. Vucic said the country wants to have the Russian S-400 missile system, but cannot afford it yet.