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Joint Russian-Serbian Slavic Shield 2021 drills to conclude

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Joint Russian-Serbian Slavic Shield 2021 drills to conclude

Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia

The air forces of Russia and Serbia will conclude a joint military exercise today.

The exercises—Slavic Shield 2021—have been held at Serbia’s Batajnica Airbase. They have focused on training air defense troops in detecting, tracking and eliminating aerial targets using Russia’s newly-upgraded Pantsyr-S1M anti-aircraft system, which possesses improved targeting abilities.

These exercises mark a further step in the increasing military and political cooperation between Russia and Serbia. Russia has long sought to assert its influence over the Balkans and has railed against EU efforts to prevent it from forming alliances in the region. To demonstrate this relationship, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that Russia would publicly support Serbia’s goals in any efforts to resolve its ongoing border disagreements with Kosovo.

This relationship, however, may cause issues in Serbia’s efforts to join the EU. Scheduled to join the EU in 2025, if Serbia continues to allow Russian forces to train and operate within its borders, its accession will likely be slowed and potentially blocked by the EU parliament in fear of increased Russian military activity within its territory. Despite this, Serbian leadership has lauded the relationship with Moscow and is unlikely to cease cooperation over EU concerns.

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