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China Makes Semi Secret Delivery Of Missiles To Serbia

Serbia, a Russian ally, received a powerful Chinese anti-aircraft system in a covert operation this weekend, despite Western worries that an armaments buildup in the Balkans during the Ukraine conflict may jeopardize the region’s fragile stability.

Six Chinese Air Force Y-20 cargo planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early Saturday, according to media and military analysts, delivering HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

At Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport, Chinese freight jets with military insignia were photographed. Serbia’s military ministry did not reply to an AP request for comment right away.

Experts saw the transfer of armaments across the borders of at least two NATO member nations, Turkey and Bulgaria, as a symbol of China’s expanding global reach.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday that he will reveal “the newest glory” of the Serbian military on Tuesday or Wednesday, implying that the medium-range system will be delivered in 2019.

He had previously claimed that NATO nations, who constitute the majority of Serbia’s neighbors, are refusing to let the system’s delivery planes pass over their territory due to concerns over Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

Despite the fact that Serbia voted in support of the U.N. It has declined to join international sanctions on its partners in Moscow or explicitly denounce the obvious atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, despite passing resolutions condemning the brutal Russian strikes.

In 2020, US authorities cautioned Belgrade against buying HQ-22 anti-aircraft systems, which are also known as FK-3 in their export variant. They said that if Serbia is serious about joining the European Union and other Western alliances, it must upgrade its military weapons to meet Western standards.

Although it has a lesser range than more sophisticated S-300s, the Chinese missile system has been frequently likened to the American Patriot and Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.

The West is concerned that Russia and China arming Serbia could push the Balkan country to go to war again, particularly against its former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008. Serbia, Russia, and China refuse to acknowledge Kosovo’s independence, although the United States and the majority of Western nations do.

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