Defence Minister denies claims made in alleged leaked Pentagon document that Serbia has agreed to supply arms to Kyiv, saying: ‘We have denied those falsehoods more than ten times’.
Milos Vucevic, Serbian Defence Minister, on Wednesday, denied Reuters report, based on alleged leaked Pentagon documents, that Serbia has agreed to supply arms to Ukraine.
“We have denied those falsehoods more than ten times and here we are, we will do it again. Serbia has not, nor will it, sell weapons to the Ukrainian or Russian side, nor to the countries surrounding that conflict,” Vucevic told Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.
“Someone obviously aims to drag Serbia into that conflict, but we consistently stick to our established policy,” he added.
The minister said Serbia of course sells weapons to third parties, which are far from the conflict and have nothing to do with it.
“There is always a possibility that some weapon will somehow magically be found on the territory of the conflict, but that has absolutely nothing to do with Serbia. This is a question for those countries that do not respect international norms, contractual clauses and business practices. I repeat, Serbia did not send weapons to Ukraine and everything published on that topic is untrue speculation,” said Vucevic.
Reuters reported that Serbia has refused to join Western sanctions on Russia imposed for its invasion of Ukraine owing to traditional ties with Moscow, but also reported that, according to a classified leaked Pentagon document, it has since agreed to supply arms to Kyiv or has sent them already.
The document, a summary of European governments’ responses to Ukraine’s requests for military training and “lethal aid” or weapons, was among dozens of classified documents posted online in recent weeks in what could be the most serious leak of US secrets in years.
The document “Response to Ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict” in chart form lists the “assessed positions” of 38 European governments in response to Ukraine’s requests for military assistance.
The chart showed that Serbia declined to provide training to Ukrainian forces but had committed to sending lethal aid or had supplied it already. It also said Serbia had the political will and military ability to provide weapons to Ukraine in future, Reuters reported.
The document has not been verified.
Since Russia’s invasion, it has been said that Serbian weapons have ended up in Ukraine, but not that it sent them directly.
The Russian media outlet Mash reported in February that rockets from the Krusik arms factory, through intermediaries, ended up in the hands of the Ukrainian army.
Mash showed documents from which, it reported, it can be concluded that 122mm GRAD rockets reached the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence via Turkey and Slovakia.
In the chain, Serbian, Turkish and US companies are involved. BIRN later checked the claims and concluded that the Serbian intermediary company in this deal was SOFAG, owned by a daughter of Slobodan Tesic, a controversial Serbian arms dealer who is on US sanctioned list.
In the deal, according to documents published by Russian media, US company Global Ordnance is also involved. It is owned by Mark Morales, one of the most important players in the Pentagon’s supply-line arming Syrian rebels fighting the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at the time.
Global Ordnance-owned companies also supply weapons and ammunition to the US Department of Defence and its allies, notably Ukraine. In August 2021, Global Ordnance signed a multi-year cooperation deal with Ukroboronprom, a Ukrainian state agency managing over 100 state-owned defence enterprises.
The arms procured by Morales’s companies are in general sourced mostly from state-owned arms producers in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
BIRN reported in July 2022 that two companies with ties to Tesic have exported ammunition to six US firms, including Global Ordnance, despite Tesic being blacklisted by US authorities for the past five years for bribery and violating arms embargos.
Morales denied knowing companies are linked to Tesic. The Pentagon has not commented on this story. The US embassy in Serbia said: “Although we cannot comment publicly on specific cases, the US Government takes seriously all allegations of material support to sanctioned entities.”
Source : Balkan Insight