US General warns Serbian authorities over weapons deal with China

NEWS 21.08.2020 11:26

A former commanding general of US forces in Europe told Radio Free Europe that the Serbian authorities should avoid replacing dependency on Russia for dependency on China.

Retired Lt. General Frederick Hodges, one-time commander United States Army Europea (USAREUR), said that Serbia has the sovereign right to buy weapons from China or anyone else it chooses. “Serbia certainly has the sovereign right to buy arms from China or wherever else it wants but the government should keep its eyes wide open. I would expect the Defense Ministry to pay due attention when it comes to determining the interoperability of Chinese and its own systems and defense concept as well as sustainability in long-term maintenance, munitions, training, replacement…,” Hodges is quoted as telling the RFE.  

Serbia is reported to be in the process of buying Chinese advanced anti-aircraft defense missile systems instead of similar Russian systems.   He expressed the hope that the Serbian government will do what is best for the country’s youth, reaching the best possible agreements that will benefit them in the future.  

Doing business with China usually includes some negative outcome such as a transfer or theft of technology, infussion of Chinese labor at the expense of local labor and extremely unfavorable agreements to repay Chinese loans, the general is quoted as saying. He added that the West should be competing with China to offer the best possible conditions. Hodges now works at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).