Serbia’s distancing from official Moscow after verbal incidents that occurred following the signing of the document in Washington have continued on Wednesday after Belgrade has decided to give up its participation in massive military exercises with the armed forces of Russia and Belarus.
Although Belgrade, through defense minister Aleksandar Vulin- the unofficial ventriloquist of president Aleksandar Vucic said that the Serbian Army (VS) is giving up on all exercises with all friendly armies in order to preserve its proclaimed military neutrality, the fact remains that the Serbian army primarily planned to take part in the “Slavic Brotherhood 2020” and “Brotherhood of Russian and Serbian Aviators” in the near future.
Concretely, the canceling the Slavic Brotherhood 2020 exercise came less than twenty-four hours before its beginning, as the drill was scheduled to take place between September 10 and 15 in Belarus.
Both exercises have been taking place for many years and the VS has made preparations to take part in it as, until a few days ago, nothing hinted this canceling.
The cancellation strikingly occurred after the exchange of “verbal artillery” between Vucic and spokeswoman of the Russian foreign ministry Maria Zakharova, who criticized his conduct at the Oval Room of the White House at the time of the signature of the agreement with representatives of Pristina (see V.I.P. No 6935, No 6936).
At the end of August, Serbia signed the Declaration of the European Union on Belarus in which it criticizes the conditions under which elections in that country had been implemented.
Vulin claims it is all EU’s fault: The Serbian defense minister declared, following the government session, that Serbia is under tremendous and unwarranted EU pressure and that this is the main reason for canceling “all military exercises”.
“Pressures that make no sense and are not based on our decisions or actions, or even reality, but are the result of hysteria that determines political decisions and directions of big and powerful countries. We are expected, at the price of abandoning our European future and of more pressure on our politics and our people in Kosovo and Republika Srpska, to cancel the planned military exercises with Belarus”, Vulin said.
He recalled that Serbia is a militarily neutral country and that, therefore, in order to reduce the consequences of enhanced attacks, it has decided to discontinued exercises during the next six months.
“In the forthcoming period, we will not be taking part in any exercise or military activities, neither with NATO nor with ODKB, nor with Russia, nor the USA, China, the EU, not with the East, not with the West. Our participation in peace operations will be reconsidered and, if necessary, suspended”, Vulin said.
The Serbian Army is presently taking part in eight peace operations of the United Nations and the European Union with a total of 276 army personnel within a six-month rotation.