Is Russia threatening Serbia because of a joint military exercise with NATO countries in June?

By making an exception to the moratorium on military exercises, and in the midst of the Ukrainian war, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, sent an important message of alliance to the West, and especially to America, according to Boško Jakšić, a foreign policy analyst.

Commenting on the decision of the Ministry of Defense to make an exception to the moratorium on military exercises with foreign partners and for Serbia to be the host country for other NATO countries in mid-June this year, Nikola Lunić, executive director of the Council for Strategic Policies, told Danas that the decision should be welcomed because , as he points out, enables not only the improvement of bilateral relations with the USA, but also with all members of the Partnership for Peace and NATO.

  • Only in such a way can we achieve a relationship of trust and reliability, and then an alliance, which is necessary for us to reduce all security risks for our country – believes the interlocutor of Danas.

However, not long after the announcement of the news that Serbia will hold a military exercise on its territory, called – Platinum Wolf, the Kremlin reacted in a negative tone.

What is the Kremlin saying to Serbia with the attitude that a military exercise with NATO will not go unnoticed?

And while for Boško Jakšić this reaction is not as harsh as one might expect, for Nikola Lunić it represents a message of threat, not at all of friendship or understanding.

Let us recall that the Kremlin announced that the military exercises that Serbia will hold with NATO armies “will not go unnoticed” in Russia.

“As for the exercises, we will certainly monitor them very carefully,” Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov said.

Peskov added that Belgrade is “under unprecedented pressure to bring Serbia to the side of those who hold to an anti-Russian position.”

  • The international exercise “Platinum Wolf” has been continuously implemented in Serbia since 2014 with the aim of improving interoperability and mutual understanding among members of the armed forces of partner countries at the tactical level during the execution of peace support operations in a multinational environment. It is about practicing the tactics, techniques and procedures of mixed teams that are applied during engagement in multinational operations. In addition to using the virtual battlefield simulator, the participants most often practice fighting in an urban environment, base defense, blocking and searching the terrain, working at a checkpoint, implementing motorized and pedestrian patrols and providing first aid – explains Nikola Lunić.

As he adds, training and increasing the ability of units to participate in multinational operations in which peace will be maintained is a vital interest of our country, especially in the current sensitive geopolitical situation when the world is facing hysteria, intolerance and increasingly loud drums of war.

Moscow is not even capable of monitoring the war in Ukraine, let alone military exercises in Serbia

  • The statement of Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov regarding the realization of this exercise with NATO partners is not only undiplomatic, but in the manner of the agitprop school that perfected messages of threat, but not messages of friendship, brotherhood or at least understanding. Instead of hearing from Moscow words of gratitude to Belgrade for not introducing sanctions or the non-reciprocity of Serbian foreign policy that does not follow Russia’s role in the Western Balkans in the 90s, after Harchenko and Zakharova, we are once again facing threats from Peskov – emphasizes the interlocutor of Danas.

In any case, he notes, Moscow is not currently able to credibly monitor the war events in Ukraine, and especially not the training activities at the “Jug” base and at the “Borovac” training ground near Bujanovac.

  • And to be clear – Serbia will never take the anti-Russian positions mentioned by Peskov, but it should as soon as possible take explicit anti-aggressor positions against the Kremlin and Putin’s ruling camaraderie – concludes Nikola Lunić.

The moratorium remains in force, which calms the regime in Russia

In addition to the claim that by making an exception to the moratorium on military exercises, in the middle of the Ukrainian war, President Vučić sent an important message of alliance to the West, and especially to America, Boško Jakšić points out for Danas that – as usual, it is a matter of tactical balance.

  • If political neutrality is on the side of Russia, then military neutrality is currently on the side of NATO – points out Jakšić.

Russia’s reaction is restrained, he adds, even with elements of understanding for Serbia’s position under strong pressure from the West.

  • The formulation of “careful monitoring” has a clear indication that Moscow does not like this kind of decision by Belgrade, but estimates that it is better to avoid a more open confrontation, especially before the moratorium remains in force – concludes the interlocutor of Danas.

The exception or the future rule?

We should also point out that the Serbian movement Dveri yesterday called on the Minister of Defense of Serbia, Miloš Vučević, to “immediately cancel the announced shameful military exercise ‘Platinum Wolf’, in the south of Serbia, of our army with the NATO alliance, under the baton of America, which tramples on the concept military neutrality of Serbia”.

The MP of the Movement and member of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Internal Affairs, Borko Puškić, told reporters in front of the Ministry of Defense building that the decision to hold the exercise “is unconstitutional and creates suspicion that the government is not implementing a sovereign policy, but is fulfilling the orders of American Ambassador Christopher Hill.” .

A few hours later, the Ministry of Defense announced that by the conclusion of the Government of Serbia from March, the tactical military exercise “Platinum Wolf” was exempted from the moratorium on the execution of exercises with foreign partners and that the adoption of that decision was “the fulfillment of the obligations that Serbia undertook regarding the participation of the Serbian Armed Forces in multinational operations”.

The Ministry added that the Government’s conclusion from February 2022 is still in force, interrupting and postponing all activities related to exercises with foreign partners.

In a statement regarding the statement of Dveri deputy Borko Puškić that the military exercise of the armies of Serbia and the NATO alliance “tramples on the concept of Serbia’s military neutrality”, the ministry stated that the international exercise was carried out a total of seven times from 2014 to 2021.

“Its realization this year does not in any way represent a precedent, but the continuity of international cooperation that brings exclusive benefit to the Serbian Army and contributes to the improvement of its operational capability”, stated the Ministry and assessed Puškić’s statement as “inaccurate and inadequate”.

The international tactical exercise “Platinum Wolf 23” will be held from June 16 to 30, 2023 in Serbia together with several partner countries with which the Serbian Armed Forces participate in multinational operations.

The goal of that exercise, as added in the announcement, is “maintaining the achieved level of interoperability of units of the Serbian Armed Forces for participation in multinational operations.”

Let us remind you that before the introduction of the moratorium, in 2021, Serbia had a military exercise with Russia and Belarus – Slovenian Brotherhood – which was strongly criticized by the EU and the USA.

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