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Serbia to receive tanks, MiG-29 planes and armored vehicles from Russia as gifts — media

Russia will deliver the vehicles to Serbia free of charge in a gesture of support for the Balkan nation, media reported

BELGRADE, December 22 /TASS/. Russia will deliver six MiG-29 fighter jets, thirty T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM reconnaissance and patrol vehicles free of charge in a gesture of support for the Balkan nation.

Serbia will have to spend from €180 mln to €230 mln for the planes’ modernization, which will take place in three stages, Serbian news agency Tanjug reported on Thursday.

"Had we wanted to purchase planes equipped with the rockets we want to have, they would have cost us about €600 mln," Tanjug quoted Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as saying after meeting Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on December 21.

According to Vucic, the agreements reached will significantly improve the Serbian army’s defensive capability. "We also received thirty T-72 C tanks, thirty BRDM-2 combat reconnaissance and patrol vehicles as well as 14.5 mm small arms as gifts," Vucic said.

According to the Serbian prime minister, a contract for the delivery of MiG-29 planes is to be signed before Friday. The MiGs can be turned over to Serbia according to one of two scenarios. According to the first scenario, Russian experts will accompany the MiGs to Serbia next March where they will undergo repairs. According to the second scenario, the planes will remain in Russia until next November and will be supplied to Serbia repaired and modernized.

Shoigu and Vucic also discussed the potential delivery of the Buk-M1 and BuK-M2 surface-to-air missile systems and the Tunguska Anti-Aircraft System to Serbia.

"We could have bought Buk-M1 and BuK-M2 at the market price. But we do not have the money (€500 mln) at the moment. We better wait until 2018," Tanjug quoted Vucic as saying.