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"NATO was trying to bring the Serbs into the stone age": whether to revive the Belgrade former military power
Material posted: Publication date: 24-03-2017
On 24 March 1999, the NATO operation "allied force". Her goal was Yugoslavia, which was then headed by Slobodan Milosevic. Western aircraft inflicted a crushing defeat on the troops of the tottering state. Damage to military and civilian infrastructure was so great that Serbia, even after 18 years of not yet recovered from the bombing. But the explosive situation in the Balkans, forcing Belgrade to restore military power. Can Serbia to create a strong army and what can be the role of Russia in this process is understood RT.

2.5 months of bombing by NATO planes and artillery struck about 900 targets on the territory of Serbia and Montenegro, dropping 21 tons of explosives, including ammunition with radioactive substances (depleted uranium U 238). In the early days of the war were destroyed up to 70% of air defense, the affected key military installations.

The Alliance conducted a military operation without sanctions of the UN Security Council and approval by the official of the Yugoslav government. International law clearly interprets such actions as intervention and aggression against a sovereign state.

NATO justified intervention to protect Kosovar Albanians from Serbs.

Irreparable damage


From a military point of view the initial tactics of the command of the Alliance was absolutely justified. In late March, NATO aircraft has achieved dominance in the air space through the elimination of air defense and fighter aircraft of the Serbs.

This was the first stage of the "allied force" (March 24-27). The second (March 27 — April 24) involves the destruction of the military infrastructure of Yugoslavia (concentrations of troops and equipment, command posts, defense enterprises). However, along with the military targets bombing exposed the enterprises of civil industries, airports, bridges, homes, schools and kindergartens.

Russian and Serbian experts believe that the true goal of the NATO operation was to destroy the socio-economic potential of Yugoslavia. Deprived of the resources of the state under the control of the recalcitrant Milosevic was supposed to fall apart by itself. So, in fact, happened.

In 1999, the Autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija came under the control of Belgrade and in 2008 declared its independence, which was supported by almost all the Western States. In 2006, free voyage went to Montenegro, which will soon become part of NATO.

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Serbia lost access to the sea and turned into a small poor continental state in the South of Europe. The bombing severely damaged about 200 civil projects: chemical factories, oil refining and machine-building plants. The total damage from operation "allied force" was, according to various estimates, from $30 billion to $100 billion.

The primary purpose of NATO was the elimination of the prosperous Yugoslav defense industry. It is known that not only hurt the two companies. NATO shells fell on the "First five years" in the town of Trstenik (probably because of contracts with Western companies). Sound was another factory — the "First spark" (barich). It was not bombed because of possible ecological disaster in case of an explosion of chemicals.

Destroyed aviation enterprise "Approval" (Pancevo) and manufacturers of small arms "Krusik" (Valjevo), "Crvena Zastava" (Kragujevac), Sloboda (Cacak). Ammunition plant "the First guerrillas" (užice) survived thanks to the underground shops.

An irreplaceable loss to Serbia was the loss of a large enterprise "Jura Jakovich", which was produced Soviet tanks T-70 and upgraded versions of this model — M-84. The production has been deployed in the town of Slavonski Brod on the border of Croatia and Bosnia. Belgrade lost control over "Jura Djakovic" in the early 1990s. Now the company produces civilian products.

Weapons exports


In the late socialist times annual export of Yugoslav arms was estimated at $4.5 billion last year Serbia sold military equipment and ammunition of approximately $500 million Thus, over the past quarter century, arms sales abroad fell by more than 10 times, given the depreciation of the dollar over this period. The depth of the fall in exports in 2000-e years were disastrous: after the bombing of Serbian defense industry actually worked. For example, according to the Ministry of Commerce, in 2005 Serbia sold abroad of military products only $31.42 million

However, in 2006 this figure increased to $71,25 million After incredible growth in 2008 ($224,35 million) exports began to decline. Critical period for the defense industry of Serbia came in 2013. Four years ago, Belgrade was sent abroad weapons $231,99 million, and in 2014-m to year — already at $267,85 million

In 2011, a resurgent Serbian defense industry drew the attention of the British weekly The Economist. According to the publication, the main market for Belgrade was North African country, which had to be renovated and Yugoslav military equipment. Also the export was modernized variants of the Yugoslav howitzers, anti-tank systems and training aircraft "Swallow".

Serbian troops during a military parade in Belgrade
According to Serbian media, since 2014 the leading purchaser of Serbian military equipment is the United States. The United States share of Serbian exports is approximately 60%. So, "First partisan" Americans annually sells 100 million cartridges in the amount of $30 million.

Capacity for the production of munitions expanded. In April 2016, near užice is located in the "First partisan" began the construction of a new plant for increasing production volumes of ammunition. However, the Prime Minister of Serbia Alexander survived said that the products will be delivered to the Serbian army.

The center for the study of corruption and organized crime (OCCRP) argues that Serbian weapons and ammunition are actively buying States engaged in the supply of militants in the middle East. However, the organization blames the US. OCCRP believes that the illicit trafficking of Serbian weapons are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and Turkey.

Expert analytical periodical Jane's Defense Weekly, Jeremy Binnie indicates that weapons from Eastern Europe and the technique of "Soviet" model better adapted to the peculiarities of the war in the middle East, where the key criteria are simplicity and reliability.

Widespread suspicion OCCRP Belgrade has not commented. It is known that official Belgrade is actively cooperating with the government of Iraq, which in 2014 is at war with "Islamic state."*

Doctor of political Sciences, Professor of MGIMO Elena Ponomareva doubts that Serbia can be involved in illegal arms shipments to the middle East. "I don't think that's even possible. Serbia has no such amount of weapons. Besides in Belgrade, are well aware that this is contrary to the policy of Russia", — said the expert RT.

Machines Zastava M70B (top) and M93
© Wikimedia Commons
Rate reduction


In addition to the defense industry, in the process of regeneration is the Serbian army, although the creation of combat-ready troops perhaps in the distant future. According to the NATO bombing in 1999 clashes in Kosovo claimed the lives of 5,000 Yugoslav military.

In 2000-ies Yugoslavia entered a period of "demilitarization" in which the Armed forces are significantly degraded. After the departure of Slobodan milošević, the new authorities have embarked on the downsizing of the Armed forces, at the same time fell in defense spending.

In the ranking of military strength Global Firepower, the Serbian army is on the 83rd place, behind most European countries, including Croatia, which fought Belgrade in the 1990-ies. The Armed forces of Serbia is 52 thousand at 170 thousand reservists.

The potential of the current Serbian army cannot be compared to the force, which consisted of the Yugoslav people's army (JNA). By the end of the 1980s it was a group of 200 thousand people with a developed military-industrial complex and combat-ready troops of the territorial defence. In 2000, the JNA consisted of 105 thousand people, and in 2002 was 77 thousand

According to the Stockholm Institute for peace studies, in 1999, the military budget of Yugoslavia, was $1,599 billion, in 2002-m to year of $1,234 billion In 2004, the army spent less than a billion dollars. In 2016, Global Firepower estimated military budget of Serbia of $830 million (just over 2% of GDP).

Most of the military expenditure goes to social and material provision of troops. Money for the purchase of new military equipment even have their own businesses to Belgrade sorely lacking. The defense of the country is supported mainly by repairing the weapons of Yugoslav manufacture.

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Serbian land forces consist of five teams, and three of them are concentrated in the South, near uncontrollable Kosovo. Serbian troops numerically and technically much superior to the Albanian separatists (who strive to create a full army), but a scenario of armed conflict, experts say, is unlikely.

The weakest link in Serbia's troops and air defense force. Data from the Global Firepower, it follows that on the balance of the Armed forces 65 combat aircraft. The backbone of the aircraft are obsolete MiG-21 and the more modern MiG-29, but also of Soviet production. Also Serbia has no attack helicopter.

In 1999, the air defence system of Serbia was almost completely destroyed. Now in Belgrade only a few units of the Soviet air defense system short range-125М1Т "Neva" and 2К12 "KUB-M" and dozens of portable complexes "Igla" and "Strela".

Optimism about the strengthening of the Serbian army is directly connected with Russia. Serbia lacks the ability to produce tanks, planes and air defenses, which it sorely needs. In 1999 Serbia lost 14 of MiG-29 fighters and 24 MiG-21, 122 tanks and armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles 222, 454 artillery pieces.

In June 2016 Belgrade has received from Russia two military-transport helicopter Mi-17V-5. In December last year, Moscow has decided to donate 6 Serbian MiG-29 fighters, 30 tanks T-72S and 30 intelligence-sentinel machines (BRDM-2).

In addition, the January 2016 military ally of the Russian Federation, Belarus gave the Belgrade 8 MiG-29 and 2 divisions anti-aircraft missile complex "Buk". It is not excluded that in the near future Moscow and Minsk will be able to do the new proposals meet the Serbian leadership.

Doctor of political Sciences, Professor of MGIMO Elena Ponomareva in an interview with RT stated that Serbia cannot meet military needs on their own. In her opinion, Russia's assistance in the war is absolutely indispensable.

The Serbian military during joint military exercises "Slavic brotherhood–2016" in Serbia. RIA Novosti

Ponomarev is convinced that Moscow is able to fully re-equip the Serbian army on a Pro Bono basis.

"For military buildup Serbia has no need to keep large numbers of troops. Need a compact but extremely capable forces. Training officers may engage in Russia. The Serbs have the experience of military action and high morale," said Ponomarev.

"In 1999, NATO tried to bring the Serbs into the stone age. On the scale of the bombing is the fact that the country is not cleared until now. The Yugoslav economy was destroyed. It's been 18 years, but today we are witnessing, perhaps, the initial period of recovery of defence of Serbia" — said the expert.

Ponomarev stressed that the pace of the revival of the Serbian Armed forces is directly dependent on the depth of cooperation with the Russian Federation. However, a too close friendship with Moscow will cause irritation in the West, with which Belgrade wishes to join in the conflict, the expert believes.

"Only Russia is interested in the emergence in the Balkans of a strong Serbia, but Belgrade is pursuing a multi-vector policy and will not to retreat from it. In my opinion, Serbia should remain a neutral country, but be able to repulse a potential aggressor", — said Ponomarev.

Alex Nakvasin, Christina Khlusova


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