RFE: US warns Serbia over Chinese AA missile system purchase

Source: N1

The United States warned the Serbian authorities over the announced purchase of Chinese anti-aircraft missile batteries, the Beta news agency said on Monday.

It quoted a Radio Free Europe report that said that Washington told Belgrade that it should be aware of the risk of buying weapons from Chinese companies and that the choice of supplier should reflect Serbia’s declared goal of integration into the European Union. The Serbian authorities are reported to have contracted the purchase of the FK-3 AA missile system from China.  

According to the US Embassy in Belgrade, the purchase of military equipment is the sovereign decision of each individual country but that governments should be aware of the short- and long-term risks and cost of doing business with Chinese companies.  

Earlier on Monday, majority of the Russian media were surprised with Serbia's decisionto buy the Chinese anti-aircraft FK-3 rocket system instead of the Russian-made S-300, according to the Balkan Security Network website.

Every country should trust that the purchase of military equipment will not jeopardize its national security or economic sovereignty, the RFE quoted the embassy as saying. It warned that there can be no trust if the sale of military equipment depends on the authoritarian government like the one in China. Serbia was advised to invest the effort to harmonize with the European Union’s joint security and defence policy.

“The choice of the supplier should reflect Serbia’s declared goal: integrating with Europe. There are other sellers who do not depend on authoritarian regimes and who offer equipment not only capable of meeting Serbia’s defence needs but which is of comparable quality and price,” the US Embassy statement to the RFE said.

The specialized portal balkansec.net cited an annual business report from the Jugoimport SDPR state-owned arms trade company which showed that contracts had been signed to buy drones and the FK-3 AA system from China. RFE said that it had asked Serbian officials for comments about the purchase but got no response.