28 October 2019

Will the S-400 systems stay on Serbia’s territory?

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

On 25.10.2019, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, accompanied by the Defence Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, and the chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army, general Milan Mojsilovic, have visited the Serbian and Russian military men at the “Slavic Shield 2019” Tactical Exercise Command, dislocated at “Colonel Pilot Milenko Pavlovic” Airfield, in Batajnica (Belgrade), on “Distinguished Visitors’ Day”.

Image source: Mediafax

As usual, President A. Vucic has used the opportunity to praise the good relations between Moscow and Belgrade, focusing on the defence collaboration. Thus, he praised the Russian military technique performances, which was dislocated in Serbia for the exercise: the elements of an S-400 “Triumph” missile defence systems division and a Pantsir-S1 missile battery. Not least, the president restated that Serbia has already bought a Pantsir-S system that will be delivered soon.

The Serbian president has even went further, stating that the S-400 is the best system in the world, being convinced already of system’s effectiveness (“it reached all the targets in less than 5 seconds […] given that 14 air groups were attacking Serbia”). According to A. Vucic, an S-400 missile system hits with a 98% accuracy, and it usually launches two missiles for one target, therefore, the target cannot be missed. Pantsir-S’s accuracy is also big, says the Serbian president, around 95%.

The Serbian leader, presented on Serbia’s Defence Ministry website as the “Supreme Commander” of the Serbian Army, has reiterated that Serbia is strengthening its military capacities and, although it is not “strong enough” now, it is definitely much stronger than before. The president praised also the Serbian military men, the missile men and the commander of the 250th Brigade of AA Missile Belgrade, the Brigadier Tiosav Jankovic, who was trained in the Russian Federation for the operation on S-400 and Pantsir-S systems (September, 2019).

The president visited both the command center (where he saw the “radar image” and the air space situation) and the positions of the systems, S-400 and Pantsir-S1. The teams showed the president how the systems work.

At the end of the visit, the chief of the Russian troops who are part of the exercise, the surrogate of the Airspace Forces commander of the Russian Federation and commander of the AA defence troops of the Russian Armed Forces, general-lieutenant (two stars) Yuri Nikolaevici Grehov, gave the president a maquette of the Pantsir-S1 system.

The Russian delegation was also composed of the general-major (one-star) Sergey Viktorovici Babakov, commander of the AA Russian missile troops, and the colonel Andrey Veaceslovovici Dugin, representative of the center for AA defence troops of the Military Defence Academy AA “Jukov”, in Tver.


Just like in other occasions wherein he thought he can gain some political capital, Serbia’s president has used the “Slavic Shield 2019” exercise to highlight, again, the high-level friendship and collaboration between Belgrade and Moscow. Therefore, he underlined that Serbia has already acquired a “Pantsir-S” system and that he regrets he does not have enough resources to get also the S-400 systems. Concretely, the president states that, if Serbia would have two S-400 division systems, no one would dare to overfly Serbia again and it would not even think about it. Lacking of money, the president said, Serbians can only enjoy having the opportunity to see how S-400 look and work…

The president has even rubbed salt on the wound, underlining that the Serbians would love to have the S-400, but they cannot afford it, and the only chance to get it would be for the Russians to offer it them as a gift. Anyhow, the president is convinced that, one day, Serbia will be able to get such systems.

As per usual, nor this time the information in the official media (websites of the Serbian ministry of defence and the Serbian army) offered too much details. After the exercise started, the Serbian media took most of the information from the Russian media (especially videos from the military TV channel in the Russian Federation, “Zvezda”).

Experts have talked also about the missiles dislocated in Serbia for the exercise, but no final conclusion was made: the 9M96E2 missiles (120 km range of action), 48N6 (250 km range of action) or even 0N6 (400 km range of action). Also, there is no public information on how the radiolocation systems of the Russian systems, which were part of the exercise (S-400 and Pantsir-S1), worked with the Serbian ones (S-125 “Neva” and “Kub-M”). On some websites, it was posted a radar image for the Serbian system “Neva” (including fight positions of the Serbian systems S-125 and “Kub-M” and the areas they are covering).

It is less likely for the S-400 systems to stay in Serbia when the exercise will be done (as Moscow’s “answer” to the American military base from Deveselu), despite the Serbian mass-media speculations. It is also less likely for the Pantsir-S systems to be kept in Serbia (the Serbian president would not have lost the change to say it out loud!).

The only things we know for sure are the certification of Serbian missile men for the S-400 and Pantsir-S operations, the “soon-to-be-made delivery” of “one Pantsir-S system” to Serbia (which was already paid) and the joint execution of two of the “Slavic Shield 2019” exercise phases (first, in the Russian Federation, in the middle of September, and the second one, between 23-29.10.2019, in Serbia).

Translated by Andreea Soare