US Threatens Serbia With Sanctions, Scrambles to Thwart Possible S-400 Purchase

Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge Nov 10, 2019

Russian S-400, a successor to the S-300. Click to enlarge

In a largely unreported but hugely important story that played out this week in the Balkans, Washington is putting immense pressure on Serbia to shelve future plans for acquiring Russia’s advanced S-400 air defense missile systems.

The controversy began Wednesday when Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told a public television broadcaster in an interview that he had a desire to purchase the S-400 but lacked the funding to do so, and at one point said “Serbia was ready to accept S-400s from Russia as a gift,” according to TASS.

You know, when you have such a weapon, no one would attack you. Neither US nor any other pilots fly where S-400s are operational: Israeli pilots do not fly either over Turkey or Syria, except for the Golan Heights. We have aviation, which the strongest than ever before. We will be strengthening the air defense with Pantsyr systems and other things, which are not on the sanctions list,” Vucic said in the interview.

This after Serbia is still reeling from what Belgrade and much of the public considers the ‘illegal’ US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, and later formal recognition of breakaway Kosovo as a republic under the Bush administration.

The president explained that he had attended the Slavic Shield-2019 Russian-Serbian drills in order to personally inspect the Russian systems and view their capabilities, which included Pantsyr-S anti-aircraft missiles.

Prior to the interview at least one notable Serbian newspaper reported that Belgrade was mulling purchase of the S-400 anti-air systems on long-term credit, with rumors that Serbian officers had even already begun limited training on the systems.

But as Russia’s TASS reported, all of this was enough to trigger US diplomatic threats and intervention:

The US was quick to respond to Vucic’s statement. US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer warned in an interview with the Macedonian television during his visit to Skopje that the purchase of S-400 systems from Russia would entail US sanctions against Belgrade.

The sanctions threat worked, according to some Russian sources; however, the spat appears to be ongoing, given Reuters reported Friday that a US diplomat was promptly dispatched to meet with Serbian authorities over the issue.

Per the Reuters report:

U.S. concerns grew last month when Russia sent its S-400 missile defense system and Pantsir launchers to Serbia for a military drill. The move underlined Moscow’s wish to keep a traditional Slavic ally on side as Belgrade pursues links with NATO and tries to join the European Union.

Matthew Palmer, a U.S. envoy for the Balkans, said last week that Serbia could risk sanctions over its arms deals with Russia. Under the sanctions, Serbia could face punishments ranging from visa bans to denial of export licenses.

However, late in the week President Aleksandar Vucic had publicly addressed the country, telling Serbs “not to fear broad sanctions would be imposed on Serbia similar to those of the 1990s during the Balkan wars,” according to Reuters.

Serbia officially has a stance of “military neutrality” with regards to NATO, but joined its Partnership for Peace program in 2015, and remains a traditional close Slavic Balkan ally of Moscow.

Washington has of late actively sought to prevent the proliferation of Russian S-400s and its next generation S-500, especially after Turkey began receiving deliveries in the past months, which has brought US-Turkey relations near breaking point.


4 responses to “US Threatens Serbia With Sanctions, Scrambles to Thwart Possible S-400 Purchase”

  1. Go Serbia, resist the Empire, if more countries follow suit, the Empire can trade with itself.

  2. This goes to show how warped the situation is. Who does America think they are, or any country for that matter, to tell another country what military weapons they can and can’t acquire? You’d have to be incredibly dumb to not see that if America is putting pressure on Syria, to not purchase the S-400 defense system, it means they’re obviously considering air strikes in the future. This is disgusting. Syria has done nothing, whatsoever, to bring about any threat to the US and her people. It’s high time American ciitizens woke up to realise that their senate and congress, are their real enemy and bringing about wars for Israel. Israel is the threat to the US, NOT Syria.

  3. What is the big deal? This is a defensive system. Otherwise, these S 400’s are just cheap Russian oil drums welded together.

  4. @Harbinger Sorry but they are talking about Serbia not Syria. Syria has and still is being bombed by the US, although very limited now compared to the free reign before Russia stepped up.
    As for why they do not want s400 in the balkans, they know the capability of the radars, let alone the missiles, will be linked to the Russians to give advanced warning of any pre-emptive strike on Russia.
    But should Russia decide to have a backdoor into the Serbian variants they sell, they could just as easily down the stealth craft attempting a strike on Russian territory.
    The same goes for Turkey aquiring the s400 as the exact can apply to those systems.
    Not to mention it is a threat to the greater israel plan.

    @Fred B Your either brainwashed into the old Soviet anti communist propaganda the US pushed out during the cold war to make it seem the Soviets could not stand toe to toe with the US (even more so after the collapse of the Soviet Union, because even in those days, the hardware available to the Russians was on par if not better than the US had, but due to lack of funds, they could never hope to launch any sort of war.
    In the decades after the collapse, corruption and theft from Olichargs, Jews etc, crippled the Russian military, but just like China, under a determined leadership, they have come from third world to first world, emergent super powers)
    Either that or your trying to propogate this propagander to make people think that Russia is just as toothless as post USSR, drum up public support for intervention in the future, afterall no one would be willing for their friends and family to fight a equal fight that could see them die, but everyone is happy to send them off for target practice in a barrel as they seen it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam (until it turned the opposite to that).

    Back to the article though, the fact that anyone feels the need to publicise any plan to purchase arms, is proof they are all in the same club, playing some pantomime act that makes everyone pick a side.
    If Serbia genuinly seen the need for s400 and other arms to defend themselves, they would have make a contract, paid for it or agreed the payment terms, and no one would hear anything until citizens of Serbia post photos of the systems during shakedown trials in the country online!
    Instead we get the Russian boogeyman theather act…