“The military presence of Russia in the Balkans can be the answer to the U.S. system PRO in Europe,” wrote Nezavisimaya Gazeta. After informing about the meeting between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, they stated that meeting ended with mutual expressed hope for closer Russian-Serbian military cooperation.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted “experts” who stated that joining of Serbia to ODKB (as observer) is considered “breakthrough achievement of Russia and its allies in achieving its geopolitical interests in the south of Europe.”
The thing is that the Russian Defence League “ODKB” to this point only included the countries of the former Soviet Union, and now has two countries that have expressed interest in its functioning outside that circle – Serbia and Afghanistan.
They also stated that ODKB “within NATO and international community has no high rating” but ODKB is “recently experiencing a transformation,” and claims the “new geopolitical tasks facing Europe,” and situation changes significantly, says Russian newspaper.
It follows from the text that Serbian stand even surprised Russia itself, even though Serbia has been in negotiations for observer status for some time. Even official Russian leadership have not taken the idea seriously, because “Serbia in 2007 declared neutrality in relation to all blocks and alliances.”
“Everything changed when, in the autumn of 2012 President of the Supreme Council of United Russia, Boris Gryzlov visited Serbia ” whose subsequent statements indicate a possible new Russian angle of looking at things, no matter that “official Belgrade remained silent.”
However, Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted the secretary general of ODKB, who said that it is too early to talk about the full membership of Serbia in the Russian military alliance, and explained that “the status of observer in the ODKB practical terms means the participation of the country (the observer) in activities (organization)” and that “Serbia will not be for such status.”
On the other hand, Gen. Leonid Ivashov believes that the full participation of Serbia in ODKB is “very probably to be expected, that it will help the country to strengthen its position in the Balkans, and in solving the problem of Kosovo.” Ivashov even says “that agreement will allow the presence of the peacekeeping contingents of ODKB in Serbia, and also to provide military assistance, as it applies to all members of the organization,” He also noted that “It would be desirable to education in the armed forces of Serbia also, the main military adviser appliances that would strengthen the defensive power of the Republic. ”
Asked about the Serbian-Russian military theme, the captain Konstantin Sivkov, (ex Center of military-strategic research) believes that “the goals of Russia in the Balkans are far broader.” Referring to the U.S. military base in Kosovo, Sivkov says “deployment of Russian military facilities in Serbia (Military Air Force bases, tactical missiles ‘Iskander’, and so on.), would surely strengthen Serbia’s sovereignty and become one of the factors of restraint.”
“… Russian military presence is possible in Serbia, and could become one of the asymmetric arrangement of the system in response to the U.S. PRO in Europe,” quoted the captain.
At the conclusion of a long article, the Russian NG mentions meeting Dacic and Shoigu, the agreement on the activation of military-technical cooperation between the two sides, and the detail that a Russian military delegation will soon arrive in Belgrade on the occasion of the signing of documents about it. In May, Moscow is also expected to visit the Chief of the General Staff of Serbia.
As Vestinet reported on April 15th, Serbia officially joined the military alliance ODKB as observer. Parliamentary Assembly of the ODKB Council in St. Petersburg decided to give Serbia observer status.