Russia wants an official explanation from its ally Serbia over reports that the Balkan country delivered thousands of missiles to Ukraine to resist an invasion ordered by Moscow.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed her “deep concern” over the reports in pro-Kremlin Russian media last month.
The potential arming of Ukraine poses a “serious issue” for Serbian-Russian relations
“We are following this story,” Zakharova said in a statement posted on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday. The spokeswoman explained that the possible arming of Ukraine is for the Russian government a “serious issue” for Serbian-Russian relations.
Known reports indicate that a Serbian state arms factory recently delivered about 3,500 missiles for the Grad multiple rocket launchers used by the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces.
Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic denied that his country had exported the missiles to Ukraine, but left the door open to the possibility that they could reach there through third parties.
“If private companies buy weapons in the markets of third countries and then sell them to other companies in other countries, this is not a problem for Serbia, this is international trade,” Vucevic said.
Serbia is Moscow’s closest ally in Europe
Serbia is Moscow’s closest ally in Europe, with historical, religious and cultural ties strengthened by decades of pro-Russian propaganda campaigns in the Balkan country.
Russia supports Serbia’s claim to its former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 with Western support. Serbia has refused to impose sanctions on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, and Western countries fear that Russia will use the escalating tensions in Kosovo to try to destabilize the Balkans and divert attention from invading Ukraine.
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