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Russia’s S-300 missile systems "too costly" for Serbia — PM

January 11, 2016, 21:06 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Russia will look into technical details of Serbia’s inquiry for the purchase of armament and S-300 air defense missile systems

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© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

BELGRADE, January 11. /TASS/. Serbia works on strengthening its military potential, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday after meeting with visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, noting that Serbia would never attack anyone but should be able to defend its citizens.

"We are intensifying our [military] production," Vucic told reporters after the talks that focused on military-technical cooperation, marking that Serbia was favoring peace and stability in the region and an improvement in ties with all its neighbours.

"Serbia will never attack anyone, but we must be ready any moment to defend our territory and our citizens," he went on.

"We keep silent, doing nothing to the threats from those who don’t refuse to buy very strong offensive weapons ," he said referring to the neighboring Croatia. Vucic also thanked Russia for respecting Serbia’s decision to be a military neutral state.

"Ballistic missiles and launching equipment that Croatia plans to buy have a range of 300 and 350 kilometers. Any place in central Serbia can be targeted from Zagreb or any other place," the prime minister said.

Speaking about prospects for military-technical partnership with Russia, he said "the Russian side was prudent and concrete in offering better terms than anybody else", adding that the two countries were facing months and years of discussion on that.

According to him, Russia’s S-300 missile systems were "too costly" for Serbia, but Russia had expressed a bid to help through certain agreements.

Dmitry Rogozin said Russia would look into technical details of Serbia’s inquiry for the purchase of armament and S-300. "We will render direct support to our ally in the Balkans. We will shortly consider your inquiries," he pledged.

Rogozin said Russia was not interfering in the issues related to security of Serbia, which had the right to buy highly efficient non-offensive weapons. "How does Serbia assess its situation with security? This is its personal business, we are reviewing only technical details," he added.

Vucic once again confirmed that Serbia was meeting all its commitments on the path towards the EU accession, but was not going to impose sanctions against Russia.

For incorporation of Crimea after last year’s coup in Ukraine, Russia came under sanctions on the part of the United States and many European countries. The restrictive measures were then intensified following Western and Ukrainian claims that Russia supported militias in self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s southeast and was involved in destabilization of Ukraine.

The Council of the European Union formally extended sanctions against Russia by six months in December, thus endorsing the decision agreed by the envoys of the 28 EU member-countries on December 18. "On December 21, 2015, the Council extended the economic sanctions against Russia until July 31, 2016," the Council said in a statement.

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