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article imageSerbia withdraws from joint military exercises in Belarus

By Ken Hanly     Sep 9, 2020 in Politics
Not long after the Belarusian Defense Ministry announced that troops from Russia and Serbia would be taking part in a joint military exercise for six days starting Sept. 10 Serbia has announced they will not participate in the exercises.
Serbia's Defense Ministry claimed that it had under "enormous and undeserved" pressure from the European Union to withdraw.
Serbia's Defense Minister Aleksander Vulin announced the suspension of military exercises and activities with all partners on Wednesday. In a press release Vulin reminded everyone that Serbia was a neutral country but admitted that Serbia was under pressure from the EU to pull out of the exercises. He said that Serbia's European future was at stake and explained:"In order to preserve the position of military neutrality, avoid or at least reduce the consequences of intensified attacks on our country, politics and economy, the government has decided to stop all military exercises and all activities with all partners in the next six months."
The joint exercises
Details about the planned event are scant. It is not clear whether the exercises will go ahead with just Russia and Belarus forces taking part. Alexander Lukashenko has been newly elected as president of Belarus. There have been ongoing protests against his election. Lukashenko would likely have used the joint exercises to show that other countries were in solidarity with his regime and presidency. However, now that Serbia has withdrawn such a claim would not be nearly as effective as Russia has all along been a supporter.
The exercises may not be related to the protests. Multi-national exercises are usually planned months in advance. The exercises might be considered a response to NATO exercises near the Russian frontier. However, since this too was planned long in advance it may just be a coincidence. However, each side uses the exercises to show their interest in the area.
Just recently Serbia was able to reach a deal with Kosovo mediated by the US to settle its differences with neighboring Kosovo as explained on the appended video.
More about Belarus Serbia relatiions, EU Serbia relations, Russia Belarus relations
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