Less than 25 years after American and NATO intervention ended a brutal war in the Balkans, one party to the conflict is swaggering and boasting over its new military hardware.
Serbia on Saturday publicly displayed a Chinese anti-aircraft missile system, according to The Associated Press.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the missiles give Serbia a “powerful deterrent” against all threats.
“We will no longer allow [ourselves] to be a punching bag for anyone,” Vucic said after the display, according to the AP.
The wire service interpreted that comment as a reference to the 1999 bombardment of Serbia in 199 after ethnic cleansing was reported in Kosovo the previous year.
“I’m proud of the Serbian army, I’m proud of a great progress,” Vucic said at a news conference, according to the Voice of America.
— Voice of Nations (@VoiceOfNations7) May 1, 2022
“We’re going to significantly strengthen our fighter air force … Serbia is a neutral country and Serbia must find solutions enabling it to preserve its sky and its state,” he said.
Last month, after the missiles were delivered in a show of force by China in a massive, unprecedented flight of Chinees aircraft, The Drive noted that “the fact that a higher-end Chinese air defense system will be operating in Europe” is likely to put Serbia’s neighbors on edge.
The delivery by the dozen military transport craft is thought to be “the largest-ever airlift delivery of Chinese arms to Europe,” the AP reported.
Interesting find by @Prova_61 👍 … In fact I have never seen before this, what appears to be the hatch removed for the chaff & flare dispenser boxes.
(Images via @铁马军戈战沙场 from Weibo) pic.twitter.com/3xBOrkMlmI
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) April 9, 2022
As noted by The Associated Press, concerns exist that Serbia could become aggressive against the tiny nation of Kosovo, which was formerly a part of Serbia until the 1999 war.
Serbia, Russia, and China don’t recognize that Kosovo is a nation. The U.S. and most of Europe do.
Serbia has been playing both sides by seeking membership in the European Union, while largely arming itself with weapons that are not compatible with NATO systems.
Instead, Serbia has purchased Russian and Chinese weapons, including T-72 tanks, MiG-29 jets, Mi-35 attack helicopters and various types of drones.
The United States has told Serbia it did not want the nation, which makes up a large part of what was formerly Yugoslavia, not to buy the Chinese missile system it just purchased.
Serbia is the only European nation that possesses the Chinese missile system.
The AP report said Serbia’s military buildup has raised fears that to appease its Russian ally, it might launch an armed conflict as a diversion from the war in Ukraine.
Vucic said Serbia is talking with Britain and France about purchasing fighter jets from those nations.
Via The Western Journal.