US and Russia carry out parallel military exercises on the Balkan Peninsula

Belgrade, Serbia (AP) — Serbia and Russia launched a joint military exercise near the Serbian capital on Thursday. US-led troops conducted extensive training in neighboring Balkan countries, believed to be Moscow’s determination to maintain influence in the European region torn by the war in the 1990s.

The Serbian and Russian Ministry of Defense said the joint training of about 200 special forces would include “destroying illegal military organizations,” shooting live ammunition, and “counter-terrorism” actions. The training will continue until May 25, the ministry said.

Exercises at the training ground near Belgrade are conducted because a large US Army-led training called DEFENDER-Europe 2021 is taking place throughout Europe, including most of the countries adjacent to Serbia.

The US Army states that a joint exercise involving approximately 28,000 multinational forces is “designed to build readiness and interoperability between the United States, NATO, and partner forces.”

Exercises, including air defense and missile defense assets, “show the ability to act as strategic security partners in the western Balkans and the Black Sea region while maintaining capacity in Northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine and Africa,” the United States said. The army mentioned above.

Serbia, a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Outreach Program and officially seeking membership in the European Union, has close military, economic and political ties with both Russia and China. ..

Serbia remains the only Russian ally in the region torn by the bloody civil war in the 1990s. Most of Serbian’s neighbors belong to NATO, and Moscow is openly opposed to joining the Western military alliance, claiming that the Eastern European region is its traditional sphere of influence.

Serbian Interior Minister Alexander Vrin said Thursday that Russia is a “good security partner.”

“Since Serbia and Russia can only be destroyed from the inside, not from the outside, we are jointly thinking of ways to protect the country,” Vrin said.

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