PANCEVO, Serbia – Military from Belarus, Russia and Serbia began the international maneuvers Slavic Brotherhood in the Serbian city of Pancevo, reported the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“In the Serbian city of Pancevo, the solemn inauguration of the international exercises Slavic Brotherhood 2019 took place,” the ministry said in a statement.
About 700 soldiers of the three countries participate in the simulations that take place from June 15 to 27.
Serbian Brigadier General Miroslav Talijan stressed that the maneuvers are being carried out for the fifth consecutive year.
“About 600 troops, including more than 200 people from Russian Airborne Forces, about 300 people from the Serbian Armed Forces and up to 60 soldiers from Belarus, as well as more than 50 combat vehicles, will take part in the exercise,” the Russian Defence Ministry said.
Serbian military expert Nikola Lunic said participation in military exercises is the most important way of improving interoperability.
“The forthcoming Slavic Brotherhood – 2019 exercise can generate good analysis of the counter-terrorism concept of other countries, while viewing its own experiences, capabilities and comparative analysis, and advance standard operational procedures in the fight against the terrorism,” the retired naval captain and director of the Belgrade-based NGO Council for Strategic Policy told BIRN.
“This tells us about a strategic approach [by Serbia] towards the mechanisms of building interoperability, which is obviously through affiliation with the neighbouring NATO member countries,” Lunic noted.
In 2013, Serbia gained non-member observer state in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, CSTO.
On May 20, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the CSTO, the Deputy Speaker of the Serbian parliament, Veroljub Arsic, thanked its member states for their support for Serbia over the issue of Kosovo, whose independence Serbia rejects. Arsic said Belgrade welcomed their “continued principled support on the Kosovo-Metohija matter and non-recognition of its unilaterally declared independence”.
This of course has not stopped Serbian communications with NATO however.