404 Russian and Serbian troops take part in exercise
More than 400 members of Serbian and Russian armed forces on Friday took part in a joint tactical exercise dubbed SREM-2014.Source: Tanjug
The exercise took place at the Nikinci ranges near the town of Šid, west of Belgrade, and lasted an hour and a half, during which time airborne troops demonstrated a hostage rescue operation and liquidation of a terrorist base, along with evacuation of the wounded.
207 members of the Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) and 197 Serbian army soldiers from the Special Brigade of the Military Police and the Air Force took part.
They used transport aircraft Il-76s and An-26s, MiG-29 fighter jets, and Mi-8 and Gazela helicopters, along with armored combat vehicles BMD-2, BTR, BOV, and other weapons and equipment.
Serbian Defense Minister Bratislav Gašić said the drills were successful, with the Serbian soldiers showing "a high level of operative capabilities."
He reiterated that Serbia is a militarily neutral country that is determining its international relations in line with "the four strategic pillars - the EU, Russia, the U.S., and China."
He also noted that Serbia has agreements on military technical cooperation with more than 60 countries, at the same time rejecting the claims that there was "a veil of secrecy" attached to Friday's event.
"What secrecy, there's more than 20 cameras here today. You must get used to it that there is a day for the media and you must know that the presence of media crews during the preparations for the exercise would have meant a high degree of risk," he said, adding that "nobody in the world is posing the question of Serbia's neutrality, instead all countries are interested in cooperation with the Serbian military."
Serbian Army chief General Ljubiša Diković said that fighting terrorism "demands quick and energetic action both from the ground and from the air," and that this was the reason for the joint exercise with the Russians.
According to him, Serbia "supports the fight against global terrorism and has an obligation to train its army for these activities because no country can overcome that problem alone."
Commander of the Russian Airborne Troops General Vladimir Shamanov said that both Serbia and Russia faced the problem of terrorism in the previous period and that Russian soldiers came to Serbia to share their experiences in this regard.
The general gave high marks to the performance of the Serbian soldiers, and added that the cooperation will continue next year when a delegation of the Serbian Army will visit the 7th Division in Ryazan, RF.
Shamanov added that ten modern parachutes were presented to the Serbian Army on the orders of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.