Russia to send air defense missile systems to Serbia amid escalation on Kosovo border
Russia will deploy air defense forces to Serbia for joint military exercises, which will be held in October amid the escalation in Kosovo.
TASS reports, citing a source in Russian military circles, that the Russian Defense Ministry will send to Serbia Pantsir missile systems, which will take part in the Slavic Shield-2021 exercises.
The maneuvers are scheduled for mid-October.
On Sunday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave the order to bring the army to increased combat readiness due to the deployment of Kosovo police special forces units to the border zone, which in Belgrade was regarded as a provocation.
Kosovo police units were dispatched to two border crossings in the north of the country, home to predominantly ethnic Serbs who do not recognize the government in Pristina.
The conflict broke out after the Kosovo authorities ordered vehicle owners with Serbian plates to change them to temporary license plates when entering Kosovo. Hundreds of ethnic Serbs began protests and blocked traffic at border crossings. At least three people were injured in the clashes.
On Sunday, Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko and Military Attaché Major General Alexander Zinchenko went the demarcation line with Serbian Defense Minister Nebojša Stefanović. According to the Serbian Defense Ministry, Russian diplomats inspected the forces and tactical groups in the garrison of Raska and the military base of Rudnica, which were brought to increased combat readiness.
Meanwhile, Serbian MiG-29 fighters began to patrol the demarcation line, and photos and videos of the armored vehicles moving to the administrative border with Kosovo appeared in social networks.
The Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally declared independence in February 2008. It was recognized by many European states, including Germany and the United States. Belgrade considers Kosovo its autonomous province, and is supported by Russia, India, China and most post-Soviet countries.