Serbian Defense Industries Working Round The Clock To Fulfil $855 Million Ammo Orders For Ukraine

The Kremlin has responded to a report that ammunition from Serbia, which has traditionally been seen as an ally of Moscow, has made its way indirectly to Ukraine.

Belgrade has good ties with Moscow and has refused to join sanctions against Russia over Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

However, tensions between Belgrade and Moscow have surfaced since the start of the war, with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić calling Ukraine a “friendly country”.

Highlighting this balance in its ties with Ukraine and Russia was the report by the Financial Times on Saturday that around €800 million ($855 million) worth of Serbian ammunition exports have reached Ukraine via third parties.

Vučić told the newspaper that while Serbia cannot export to Ukraine or Russia, it did have contracts with the U.S., Spain, Czech Republic and other countries and that “what they do with that in the end is their job.”

When asked about Serbia’s ammunition sales, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “we have seen and heard these statements by Mr. Vučić,” Russian state agency Tass reported on Monday, “we will deal with this topic in contacts with our Serbian friends.”

Nikola Mikovic, a Belgrade-based political analyst, told Newsweek Vučić sees the deal as a “great commercial opportunity” and that contrary to Western perception, Belgrade is not an ally for Russia, having condemned its invasion of Ukraine, and backed anti-Russian resolutions at the UN General Assembly.

“The Serbian government openly supports Ukraine politically and diplomatically, while it indirectly arms Kyiv,” Mikovic told Newsweek. “Moscow tolerates Vučić’s moves because the Kremlin aims to preserve an illusion at home that there is a European country that has not taken an anti-Russian stance.”

The so-called Pentagon leaks in 2023 suggested that Serbia had allegedly committed to supplying or had already delivered lethal weaponry to Kyiv, Reuters reported, which the Serbian government publicly denied.

But Vučić told the FT in the interview published Saturday that the sales of Serbian ammunition were “part of our economic revival and important for us.”

“I need to take care of my people,” he told the FT, “we have friends in Kyiv and in Moscow. These are our Slav brothers.”

Mikovic said that the Kremlin is not in a position to jeopardize relations with Belgrade. “What Vučić almost certainly fears is the reaction of his voters, given that the vast majority of them have a strong pro-Russian sentiment,” he said, “that is why pro-government media in Serbia remain silent over the reports of Belgrade arming Ukraine.”

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