BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s military has received four MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said in an interview with the Serbian Politika daily on Sunday.
“Under an agreement between Serbian President Alexandar Vucic and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus has given us fighter jets and we are very thankful to it for that,” he said, adding that thanks to the supplies of six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia and four such warplanes from Belarus, Serbia will have a fleet of 14 fighter jets. This is a larger air force than desired by NATO.
The MiG-29 fighters will be refurbished and modernized by the same model as the six aircraft received from Russia, Serbian Minister of Defense Alexander Vulin said.
He said aircraft were donated as a result of the agreement between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Belarusian Alexander Lukashenko. Vulin told “Politics” that Serbia will have a squadron of modernized “migova-29” for a year, and the first H-145M helicopters will arrive.
In addition the Serbian defense minister said that while visiting Moscow in April he had had talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu on supplies of four Mi-35 combat helicopters, four Mi-17 transport helicopters, T-72 tanks, BMP-2 armored infantry carriers and missile defense systems. Serbia is in the midst of arming and upgrading its defenses, particularly those suited for anti-terrorist and potential regional conflicts with its neighbors. NATO has been expanding in the region, and arming Albania and Croatia, longtime US allies in the region.
Six MiG-29 fighter jets reached Serbia in October 2017. Now the warplanes are to be modernized in three stages. The country plans to spend a sum from 180 million to 230 million euro for these purposes. Along with MiG-29 fighter jets, Russia’s assistance to Serbia will include 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 combat patrol vehicles. Apart from that, the sides are discussing supplies of Buk-M1 and Buk-M2 missile systems and Tunguska surface-to-air gun and missile systems. Earlier, Belarus announced its plans to hand over to Serbia in 2018 eight MiG-29 fighter jets and two Buk missile systems on condition that Belgrade pays for their repairs.
The Serbian military has previously announced its intentions improve Serbia’s military, while NATO has condemned Serbia for not reducing its armed forces as it has requested Serbia to do.
Asked whether according to the Defense Ministry’s assessment there is a risk of deterioration of the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija and in the Land Security Zone, Vulin says that the army keeps the peace and security of every citizen of Serbia, but that there is always a risk.