By Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
According to the Russian Newspaper “Vzglyad”, Aleksandar Vučić’s visit to the Kremlin across a span of three-days (27th October – 29th October) will serve the purpose of sealing a deal which will upgrade key components of Serbia’s military. The contract, instigated by Vučić, involves the almost complete retooling of the Serbian Army under the Russian standards.
First of all, Russia will upgrade Serbia’s “Nora” Howitzer. This would require a contract with KAMAZ, which alone is able to upgrade the entire Serbian system. “Nora”, as seen in the conflict in Novorossiya, is extremely useful in everyday combat, especially in off-road conditions and undefined terrain, particularly in the swamps and mud. This is very important for Serbia and its eternal problems on the Croatian border.
Secondly, the new Serbian BTR “Lazar-2” will be equipped with 30-mm 2A42 cannons. The Serbian BTR “Lazar-2”, which is not quite an APC but rather a lightweight hybrid, is close to what the Soviet Union called and modern Russia call an armoured reconnaissance and sabotage vehicle (BRDM). It is lighter than the conventional standard, but Serb requirements, which also apply to the “Nora”, mean it can be used as an offensive assault weapon. With the 30mm cannon added, the Serbian “Lazar-2” becomes almost a light tank.
Finally, there is the possibility for deliveries of missile defense systems. It is not clear what system the Serbs claimed and the amount calculated but what is clear is that it is a unique contract that is comparable only with the supply of S-300 to Iran.
Such a re-equipping of the Serb army, if it is indeed implemented, will lead to the practical failure of any plans for Serbia’s integration into NATO as it will create an independent missile defence system in the region. In addition, most of the new supply for the Serbian Army will be focused on the Russian system of ammunition and spare parts, which does not allow for the transition to NATO standards caliber and the unification of supply.
The total amount of the alleged contract is difficult to calculate, but roughly it will cost around five billion euros, which for a Balkan country, is quite staggering. In addition to the above, Serbia will receive up to a dozen transport helicopters, two of which have already been paid for, and one of them will come to the republic by the end of this year.
In summary, if the contract is implemented, it will be unique not only for Serbia but for the whole Balkan region as a whole.