BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Live-ammunition drills the Serbian military is holding with Russian and Belarusian troops show Belgrade has allies in any future war in the Balkans, Serbia’s defense minister said Monday.
Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said the joint Slavic Brotherhood military maneuvers Serbia is hosting this month demonstrate “we are no longer alone.”
“We have friends,” Vulin said in a statement. “That horrible moment in our history when we were all alone will never repeat again.”
Vulin was referring to the 1999 U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia. The NATO bombing stopped a bloody Serb crackdown against Kosovo Albanian separatists and civilians, while Russia remained largely on the sidelines.
Serbia is seeking European Union membership, but has also been sliding toward Russian influence. Moscow supplies arms and warplanes for the Serbian armed forces, triggering worry in Serbia’s neighbors that are NATO allies or seeking to become members of the Western military alliance.