BELGRADE Dec 22 Serbia wants closer military
cooperation with Russia, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said
during a visit to Moscow, where he also stressed Belgrade's
neutrality in an attempt to balance a historic relationship with
a push to join the European Union.
Serbia's armed forces have an almost 80 percent reliance on
Soviet technology, a legacy from the Yugoslav People's Army, and
it plans to buy equipment from both Russia and the EU to bolster
its airforce, depleted by the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
"Vucic stressed that Serbia's position as a neutral country
will not change, and expressed hope that the political, economic
and military cooperation between the two countries will be
improved," the Serbian government said in a statement.
Vucic said Belgrade would spend between 180 and 230 million
euros ($188 to $240 million) modernising six MIG-29 fighter
jets, given by Russia, which he said would have cost 600 million
more on the market, according to the statement.
Belgrade has also said it plans to buy an nine aircraft from
During a meeting with Vucic, Russian Defence Minister Sergei
Shoigu proposed trilateral tactical exercises with Belarus, to
be dubbed "Slavic brotherhood", the government statement said.
It said Russia was also ready to intensify its cooperation
with Serbia in military training.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Louise Ireland)