BELGRADE – Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will visit Moscow on Wednesday to sign an agreement on the supplies of six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia on very favorable terms, Kommersant business daily writes.
For its part, Moscow hopes that Belgrade will decide in favor of providing diplomatic status for Russian staff members of a humanitarian center in Nis, southern Serbia, the paper says. However, Vucic made it clear that he is not going to announce this decision in Moscow, TASS reports.
Under the deal, due to be signed in March-April 2017, Belgrade is expected to get used MiG-29 jets free-of-charge, paying only for their repair. This information was confirmed by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic after his recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
However, Vucic insists that Serbia should buy the aircraft, although at a price below the market. Apparently, this has great importance for the Serbian premier, the paper says.
The premier also said that Serbia is in talks with Russia on the supplies of air defense systems. Sources close to the Serbian government told Kommersant that this is a modified version of the Buk system, which can be supplied to Belgrade by next year.
Speaking on why Belgrade is signing the deal with Moscow, Serbia’s Chief of General Staff Ljubisa Dikovic said 80% of Serbia’s armaments are made in Russia. The second reason is that “no one can offer more advantageous terms on MiGs.” The general said that military cooperation with Russia is based “on friendship and similar approaches to peace and security issues.”
Meanwhile, the decision on the diplomatic status of the Russian staff members at the Nis center will be apparently put off until at least early 2017 when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is set to visit Belgrade, Kommersant writes. Moscow has been seeking this decision for a long time, but Belgrade has so far delayed the move fearing possible repercussions from the EU. Brussels has opposed granting this status to the Russian staff members viewing this as a step towards creating a military base there.