Serbian military hosts drills with Russian, Belarusian forces

Serbian military hosts drills with Russian, Belarusian forces

Mon Nov 7, 2016 6:39AM

Serbia is hosting joint military drills with Russian and Belarusian armed forces with the aim of broadening cooperation in anti-terror missions across borders.

Some 450 Serbian soldiers, 212 Russian troops and 56 Belorussian military servicemen are taking part in the tactical drills, named “Slavic Brotherhood 2016,” in the Belgrade region, according to media reports.

The maneuvers kicked off on Thursday and will reportedly come to a close on November 9, but the Russian military will remain in Serbia until November 15 for analysis.

Three Il-76MD aircraft, armored personnel carriers, all-terrain AM-1 vehicles and the Tahion unmanned aerial vehicle are among the hardware brought by the Russian servicemen to the drills.

    “The aim of the drills is to improve operational capabilities for resolving tactical and fire tasks when carrying out anti-terrorist operations in a multinational environment,” the Serbian Defense Ministry said.

“Slavic Brotherhood 2015” was held last year in Russia’s Novorossiysk region.

The drills come as NATO forces on Friday ended a parallel five-day military drill in Montenegro involving hundreds of soldiers from seven member countries and 10 partner states.

Both Serbia and Montenegro are socialist republics and traditional Russian Christian Orthodox allies, but the two Balkan neighbors seem to be pursuing different strategic directions in ties with Moscow.

Serbia has remained close to Russia, while Montenegro has adopted a pro-Western stance, which has been awarded by NATO with an offer to join the Western military alliance.

The NATO invitation to Montenegro has been met with strong opposition from Russia, which has repeatedly criticized NATO military build-up near its borders.

Experts say the parallel military drills are a display of growing tensions between Russia and the West. The two sides are at loggerheads over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

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