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    NATO Will 'Drag Serbia Into Major Fight' Over Possible S-300 Deliveries

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    Serbia is mulling the purchase of several battalions of Russia's S-300 surface-to-air missile system, with the two countries engaged in discussions on the issue. Military observer Igor Korotchenko told Sputnik about the source of Serbia's interest in the defensive system, and why NATO will undoubtedly do everything in its power to torpedo the deal.

    Dmitri Shugaev, the director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, the agency regulating Russia's military-technical cooperation with foreign countries, confirmed that Serbia has expressed an interest in the air defense system.

    "Our Serbian partners are expressing an interest in delivery of the S-300 air defense system," Shugaev said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the ARMY-2017 military expo outside Moscow on Thursday.

    The S-300, one of the most advanced weapons in its class, is designed to guard against enemy tactical and strategic aircraft, short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. Produced by Russia's Almaz-Antey defense concern, the system's users outside the post-Soviet space include Algeria, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Vietnam.

    Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Igor Korotchenko, the editor-in-chief of National Defense, a popular Russian defense publication, noted that Serbia's interest in Russian air defense system is potentially very significant, but not surprising.

    "For Serbia, which became a victim of NATO bombing in 1999, the issue of strengthening its air defenses is one of its key priorities," the analyst said. "Therefore, Serbia has a tremendous interest in Russia's long-range air defense systems."

    Flames from an explosion light up the Belgrade skyline near a power station after NATO cruise missiles and warplanes attacked Yugoslavia late Wednesday, March 24, 1999
    © AP Photo / Dimitri Messinis
    Flames from an explosion light up the Belgrade skyline near a power station after NATO cruise missiles and warplanes attacked Yugoslavia late Wednesday, March 24, 1999

    Negotiations on the delivery of S-300s to the country are proceeding actively, Korotchenko noted, as are negotiations on the delivery of MiG-29 fighters.

    According to the analyst, "the issue, by all appearances, revolves around the price of the contract…If a contract is signed, this would undoubtedly be a very strong geopolitical step, and an excellent indicator that Russian S-300s and S-400 systems remain the favorites in the global arms market."

    Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems at a parade rehearsal outside St. Petersburg.
    © Sputnik / Alexei Danichev
    Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems at a parade rehearsal outside St. Petersburg.

    Naturally, NATO will undoubtedly attempt to put pressure on Serbia to disrupt its plans, Korotchenko added. "NATO will oppose this deal every way it can. It will exert pressure on Belgrade, up to and including blackmail, taking into account Serbia's interest in joining the EU."

    "Therefore, the fight will be serious. Massive pressure will be put on Belgrade to try to derail this contract," the observer concluded.

    Related:

    Serbian Army Interested in Russian Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles
    'We Must Be Strong Enough': Serbia Mulling Russia's S-300 System Purchase
    Serbia Wants Russian S-300 Missile Systems to 'Defend Against NATO Aggression'
    Russia, Serbia Discuss Supplies of S-300 Battalions
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    S-300, Russia, Serbia
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