Serbia requests missile defense systems from Russia

By Ryan Maass   |   Jan. 11, 2016 at 2:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Moscow is considering Serbia's request for defensive weapons and interest in deepening military ties.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin met with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade Monday, and afterward said the final decision on Serbia's request to procure Russian weapons would be made to meet Serbia's minimal security requirements. Russian state-owned Sputnik News reports that during the meeting, Rogozin presented a mock-up of Russian-made S-300 air defense system.

Serbia's request for Russian arms comes after its neighbor Croatia began talks with Norway to acquire ballistic missile defense systems. However, Russian state-owned news agency Tass reports Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic maintains he does not want to start a war with Croatia. Vucic says Croatia's move raises national security concerns.

"I am not nervous, but worried," Vucic told Serbian state news agency Tanjug. "The ballistic rockets and launch pads that Croatia is planning to acquire have ranges of 300 and 350 km. You can target any location in central Serbia from Zagreb or any other location."

Rogozin stressed the requested weapons in question are "not offensive ones but those capable of removing any risks of an attack on Serbia."

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