Putin: Russia to help Serbia strengthen defence capabilities

Putin: Russia to help Serbia strengthen defence capabilities

Putin: Russia to help Serbia strengthen defence capabilities Izvor: AFP/Andrej Isaković

Russia will help Serbia strengthen its defence capabilities and will continue holding joint exercises, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a news conference following talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.

The Russian president said they discussed the two countries’ military cooperation which will include assistance to the Serbian authorities in reinforcing the country’s defences.  

He said that they also discussed bilateral relations as a whole and exchanged views on regional issues, adding that cooperation, which will be reinforced by the agreements signed in Belgrade, in the energy field is one of the most important issues.  

Exports of Russian natural gas to Serbia have increased and the Gazprom company is planning to increase them even more with plans to expand the capacities of the Banatski Dvor storage facility as well as the gas pipeline network in Serbia, Putin said. He added that Gazprom has invested some three billion Dollars into the company it owns in Serbia and is planning to invest another 1.4 billion.  

Speaking about Kosovo, he said Russia’s views are well known. “Russia, like Serbia, is interested in keeping the situation stable in the Balkans. As for Kosovo, we advocate a mutually acceptable solution based on (UN Security Council) resolution 1244. Unfortunately the Kosovo authorities have taken several provocative steps, statements by the Kosovo side on the forming of a military are violations of the resolution which does not allow the forming of any military on the territory of Kosovo. Russia shares the concerns of the Serbian leadership. The steps taken by Kosovo can lead to destabilization,” Putin said.  

Putin had separate meetings with Serb politicians from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. He met with Republika Srpska (RS) President Zeljka Cvijanovic and Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency President Milorad Dodik and with the leaders of two ethnic Serb parties in Montenegro – Andrija Mandic of New Serb Democracy and Milan Knezevic of the Democratic Popular Party. He also met with Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica.

The Serbian president said that a high level of agreement had been reached on all issues discussed by the two delegations. He said he informed Putin about events in Kosovo. “I informed Putin about the unlawful tariffs against Serbia, the forming of a Kosovo military counter to resolution 1244 and it seems that we have Putin’s support. Serbia is prepared to talk but will not accept humiliation. I am afraid that some people are not prepared to compromise,” Vucic said.  

He added that he is satisfied with how cooperation with Russia is progressing, adding that this many agreements were never signed at one time by the two countries. “Serbia depends on Russia for energy and we have reached agreements to build a gas pipeline, increase the gas storage facilities which means that we will no longer ask why companies have no gas and that will mean economic progress,” he said. According to Vucic, the newly signed agreements are worth 230 million Euros. Serbia is a disciplined country which has not fallen late in repaying debts to Russia, he said.

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