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U.S. intel leak points to Serbia’s secret arms deal with Ukraine – Reuters

U.S. intel leak points to Serbia’s secret arms deal with Ukraine – Reuters

According to a classified Pentagon document, Serbia, the sole European country that has refused to impose sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, has agreed to supply arms to Kyiv or may have already done so, Reuters reports.

Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic, however, dismissed the intelligence as false. In a statement, he said, “Serbia did not, nor will it, be selling weapons to the Ukrainian nor the Russian side, nor to countries surrounding that conflict.”

The document, entitled “Europe|Response to Ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” details the “assessed positions” of 38 European governments in response to Ukraine’s requests for military assistance. While Serbia declined to provide training for Ukrainian forces, the chart shows that it has committed to sending lethal aid or has already supplied it.

Serbia’s government, led by President Aleksandar Vucic, has maintained neutrality in the Ukraine war, despite the country’s deep historic, economic, and cultural ties with Russia. Janusz Bugajski, an Eastern European expert with the Jamestown Foundation, said that if the document is accurate, it either shows Vucic’s duplicity toward Russia or that he is under immense pressure from Washington to deliver weapons to Ukraine.

The disclosure of the chart comes just over a month after documents posted in a pro-Russia Telegram channel allegedly showed a Serbian arms maker’s shipment of 122mm Grad ground-to-ground rockets to Kyiv in November. The authenticity of the shipment documentation posted on Telegram could not be independently confirmed by Reuters.

Background

Serbia has been in the news in connection to its relations with Russia and as a country that could potentially join the European Union. There have been concerns about Russian efforts to recruit Serbs to fight alongside its paramilitary group Wagner in Ukraine, prompting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to ask Russia to end such recruitment efforts. Similar efforts to recruit Serbs to fight for Russia in Ukraine have been ongoing since 2014, with the start of Russia’s war.

According to a report, Serbia is ranked second in terms of its readiness to join the European Union, with 98 points, outperforming Ukraine with 69 points..

In March, reports emerged of a spy hideout in Serbia where expelled Russian diplomats have resurfaced. Among the Russian diplomats is Alexei Ivanenko, who was expelled from Croatia in April 2022.

 

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