Vucic: Serbia wants S-300

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic arrived in Moscow late on Sunday and said his meeting with Putin was of exceptional political, economic and overall significance for Serbia.

“I feel proud when I represent the interests of my nation in such meetings,” Vucic told Serbia’s state broadcaster RTS.

Vucic’s delegation includes Serbian ministers of defense and labor Zoran Djordjevic and Aleksandar Vulin.

Vucic said that the topics in the Kremlin today would include military and technical cooperation in the arms industry, and cooperation in tourism.

The prime minister said that he would have “a private conversation” with Putin, and that the Serbian delegation will have a separate meeting with Russian government representatives.7

“Our first topic is economic cooperation, following a drop in the ruble exchange rate, oil and gas prices, and a fall in the Serbian-Russian trade. We will discuss fruit and vegetable processing, the Agrokor company, soon to be taken over by Sberbank, cooperation in the arms industry, where Serbia has been using the KAMAZ chassis,” the prime minister said.

Vucic also said that military and technical cooperation between the two states would be discussed during the visit as well.

“We expect a portion of that cooperation to be finalized soon. It is not only the policing of the sky that we need, which is why we will talk about the procurement of anti-aircraft systems, probably the BUK (air defense) system,” Vucic explained.

During Vucic’s unofficial visit to Moscow late last year, when he spoke with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the delivery of six MiG-29 aircraft, 30 tanks and other armored vehicles was agreed.

Vucic at the time announced the imminent signing of the agreement, but so far, according to the Serbian and Russian sides, that did not happen, Beta has reported.

When asked “when the six MiGs and the 60 armored vehicles would arrive in Serbia,” Vucic told RTS that this depended on whether Putin would signed a decree on military-technical cooperation, “which is a more favorable option for us than a decree on a gift.”

He stressed that Serbia “does not intend to go to war and attack, but only protects its territory.”

“Several times I promised that we need to protect our skies and protect our territory. Our people do not have to worry,” Vucic said, stressing that “no one will be able to attack our country or our people.”

Vucic said that “our idea is to also talk about (Russian air defense) S-300 systems – which is also a defensive weapon.”

According to him, the frequent meetings with Russian officials indicate that Serbia and Russia have good relations that are being further improved.

“We are making an effort to find new models for establishing multiple forms of cooperation with Russia,” he said.

Vucic also reiterated that Serbia will not impose sanctions on Russia and does not want to belong to any military bloc.

Vucic announced earlier that he would speak with Putin about economic cooperation between the two countries and “the possible arrival of a Russian company, which would produce different types of the machinery Serbia.”

Noting that the two countries have excellent political relations, Vucic pointed to the fact that the president of Russia was “largely focused on economic issues and has already come up with some ideas, especially in terms of strengthening the pharmaceutical industry.”

As Vucic said, “Putin will in May to present a comprehensive plan and program of Russia’s exit from the crisis, and a growth program, which is interesting for our country.”

Serbian and Russian delegations will also speak about “military-technical and cultural cooperation,” Vucic said.

Vucic’s previous meeting with Putin was in May 2016, shortly after Serbia’s early parliamentary elections. Vucic was PM-designate at the time.

He traveled to Moscow on Monday as the ruling coalition’s candidate in the April 2 presidential election.

Since the scheduling of the election, Vucic also traveled to Berlin where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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