Russia "not secretly installing military base in Serbia"
Aleksandar Radić says the Emergency Situations Center in Niš, southern Serbia, is not an attempt to "secretly install a Russian military base."Source: Beta
"The center of Niš is exclusively designed for the needs of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations," this military-political analyst told the Beta news agency, and added:
"It's not a secret attempt to install a military base, but there are strong groups in Serbia that are creating paranoid situations and confusing foreigners with inaccurate information."
He added that "in a hypothetical case of direct Russian military presence in Serbia," the center in Niš would be neither useful, nor otherwise.
"There are other points, if such a fantastic political scenario of direct Russian military presence in Serbia were to be imagined. This purpose can be served by any military infrastructure, not just in Niš," Radić said.
According to him, Russian planes and helicopters are not constantly stationed in Niš, but only in accordance with the needs, while the center also has storage facilities for materials and technical equipment "that the Russians use for maintenance of the aircraft that they put out fires with throughout the Mediterranean."
Commenting on the claims that EU's pressure on Serbia "to take a tougher line toward Russia" would grow, Radić predicts this will culminate in late September and early October, when Serbia will host a joint Serbian-Russian military exercise.
"The government of Serbia is caught between what it wants as a strategic choice - to join the EU, and the desire to maintain good relations with Moscow. Given that the war in Ukraine will continue, the pressure on Serbia will culminate at the end of September, when the Serbian Army will hold military exercises with Russian paratroopers," thinks Radić.
According to this analyst, the drills will get media exposure, and so serve as a pretext for even stronger pressure on the authorities in Belgrade.
"We are entering a period of increasing pressure on Serbia, even in those areas where Western countries have good cooperation with Moscow. It is quite understandable that the West has this attitude towards EU candidate countries, because these countries are often required to do more on some issues than member-states themselves," said Radić.