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Russian deputy PM slams attempts to militarize Balkans

January 12, 2016, 16:44 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Earlier, Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic expressed surprise neighboring Croatia was holding talks on purchasing ballistic missile defense systems from Norway

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

BELRADE, January 12. /TASS/. Attempts at militarizing the Balkan region inspire no optimism in Russia, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday at a news conference after the 14th session of the Russian-Serbian intergovernmental committee for trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation.

"We don’t think the Balkans deserve militarization. We don’t want repetition of what happened in your region, in the territory of former Yugoslavia, in the 1990s. But we cannot be indifferent to what concerns security of our friend and neighbor - Serbia. So, taking into account that there are no restrictions on supplies of defensive weapons to Serbia, we will consider its request [for weapons] very thoroughly," he said.

When asked to comment on Serbia’s security situation, Rogozin said, "The issue of identifying risks and threats and analyzing the situation is a matter of the military, and not some foreign military but your own Serbian military."

"Naturally, we are interested to have details of such analysis and our role here is to thoroughly and swiftly consider the request, which is Serbia’s sovereign issue," he stressed.

Speaking about plans of Serbia’s neighbor, Croatia, to buy missile systems in the United States, the Russian deputy prime minister said as a technocrat he paid attention to technical parameters of weapons. "If the range of such missiles is 270-300 kilometers, then what for it is all being done? It looks like this deal is meant to impose American junk, scrap on Croatia. The Americans are in the habit of doing this - they force NATO countries to buy their obsolete weapons that are no longer used in the United States. And NATO is nothing but a tool to legitimize the United States’ military presence in Europe," he said. "So, there is a question: If this deal is not about that but is about Zagreb’s own plans, then who is a potential target for these missiles?"

"So, not going into politics, we simply proceed from the fact that Serbia’s needs are not in buying offensive weapons but in purchasing defensive weapons to protect itself from these new risks," Rogozin said.

"As for NATO, I would like to say the following: we don’t like these attempts to militarize the Balkans. Such attempts are just another proof that what we have been hearing since fall of the Berlin Wall is a lie. NATO is about mutual cover-up, it is an instrument of additional financing. As a vacuum clear, they are sucking up money from small European states to sponsor the United States’ defense sector," he said, adding that NATO had once again demonstrated it was a relic of the Cold War.

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