Aleksandar Vučić in Moscow: only MiGs on the agenda

21.12.2016

Today Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and Serbian Minister of Defence Zoran Djordjevic are going to pay a visit to Moscow, where they will hold talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. They are also planning to sign an agreement on supplying certain types of weapons, among them, the Mikoyan MiG-29, and possibly a missile defense system.

The defense doctrine

Aleksandar Vučić said before his visit to Russia that Serbia had no aggressive plans and “is not going to attack anyone”.  And this purchase of six planes (Serbia is going to have 10 in total, subject to the conclusion of today's deal) is a part of the current modernization of defense systems. The Serbian Prime Minister also stressed that in order to remain independent, Belgrade had to defend itself.

Against the Background

 Most likely, this remark was caused by the militarization of Croatia, which Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov paid attention to. When paying a recent two-day visit to Belgrade, he said that Zagreb was rapidly arming, with the types of weapons aimed “not for the defense purposes”.

However, before the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić had held a series of meetings at NATO headquarters, and immediately after his talks with Lavrov flew to Brussels, where he met with Federica Mogherini.

At that time, Sergei Lavrov and the Russian delegation were accompanied by officials who unlike the prime minister, had always been considered more loyal to Russia, Serbian counterpart Lavrov Ivica Dacic, Ministers of Defence, Interior and Labor, as well as events with President Tomislav Nikolic.

Russian prerogative

Russia has always considered the defense sector as the foundation of international relations. Thus, by signing such agreements, Belgrade underlines its commitment to Moscow. However, Russia is necessary to strengthen the potential of cooperation in other areas, even in the area of “soft power”, as Washington does. 

Especially because of numerous visits to the NATO headquarters by Vučić, and the words of the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, saying that Serbia would sooner or later join NATO. That’s why certainly the defense aspect of Russian-Serbian relations remains dominant.