Serbia’s leader on Monday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for boosting the Balkan nation’s military with battle tanks and armored vehicles, amid Western fears that the arms buildup could threaten fragile peace in the region. President Aleksandar Vucic inspected the delivery of 10 recently arrived Russian armored patrol vehicles at a Serbian army military base, part of the promised supply of 30 secondhand T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicles. The vehicles have been delivered despite neighboring Romania’s refusal to let them transit via the Danube River because of international sanctions in place against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine. Romania is a NATO member while Serbia claims military neutrality despite close ties with Moscow. Media reports say Russia flew the 10 armored vehicles to Serbia last week on its transport planes using Hungarian airspace. “The most important thing for us is that we managed to transport the vehicles to Serbia,” Aleksandar Vucic said. “How and which way they came, that is our business.” Russia has been helping its ally Serbia beef up its military, 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.Most Popular Russia Officially Welcome Back to Rejoin The Council of Europe Vladimir Putin: Trump Impeachment ‘Far-Fetched’ Trump: ‘Putin Isn’t Seeking to Get Involved In Venezuela Crisis’ NATO Tells Russia to Destroy New Missile Before August Deadline Or Face Alliance Response Russia, Turkey Keen to Reduce Tension in
Vucic and his entourage were later stopped by Kosovo police on the road to the Drenica region and were told they couldn’t continue for security reasons. “I have never been fascinated by someone’s hatred. But when someone is so mean, showing some symbols that they believe we get offended by, well they are very mistaken,” said President Aleksandar Vucic, a former ultranationalist. “Now, I am even more determined to preserve peace, but also to preserve Serb institutions and Serb people” in Kosovo.
A group of activists calling themselves Citizens and Friends of the Balkans against Partition/Land Swap wrote an open letter warning about possible effect of the deal. “We implore the EU, its member states, and the United States to reconsider their position on such a return to ethnification of polities and frontiers,” the letter said.