July 20, 2024

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Serbia turns blind eye to its ammunition ending up in Ukraine

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Serbia has been discreetly stepping up sales of ammunition to the west that ends up bolstering the defence of Ukraine — even though it is one of only two European countries not to join western sanctions against Russia.

Estimates shared with the Financial Times put Serbia’s ammunition exports that have come to Ukraine via third parties at about €800mn — a sum President Aleksandar Vučić indicated was broadly accurate — since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. He presented the situation as a business opportunity, insisting he would not take sides in the war.

“This is a part of our economic revival and important for us. Yes, we do export our ammunition,” he said in an interview. “We cannot export to Ukraine or to Russia . . . but we have had many contracts with Americans, Spaniards, Czechs, others. What they do with that in the end is their job.

“Even if I know [where the ammunition ends up], that’s not my job. My job is to secure the fact that we deal legally with our ammunition, that we sell it . . . I need to take care of my people, and that’s it. That’s all I can say. We have friends in Kyiv and in Moscow. These are our Slav brothers.”

Asked if the €800mn figure was in the right “ballpark”, he said not over one year but “maybe in two or three years, something like that”.

Serbia is neither a member of Nato nor the EU, and its people have long had a sentimental attachment to Russia while resenting the west after Nato’s bombing campaign on their country in 1999. Belgrade also counts on Moscow to block international recognition of Kosovo, the former Serbian province recognised by most western states, but which is held back from UN membership by Russia and China.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić: ‘We cannot export to Ukraine or to Russia . . . but we have had many…

2024-06-22 08:00:43

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