Serbia will ramp up defense spending in 2024 to keep pace with arch-foe Kosovo, which has been investing in sophisticated weapons recently.
Speaking during a visit to the country’s Military Security Agency last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said Belgrade will earmark 740 million euros ($804 million) for new military equipment this year.
Around 186 million euros ($202 million) are reportedly available now and will be spent immediately on domestically-made armaments.
According to Vučić, Serbia will prioritize the acquisition of eight Nora self-propelled howitzers and 30 special turrets for its Lazar III infantry fighting vehicles.
It will also procure 81 Milos II armored combat vehicles and 26 upgraded M80AB1 tracked amphibious vehicles.
“All this equipment and vehicles should arrive by 2026,” he said, adding that more weapons would be procured later this year when two additional financial packages become available.
Keeping Pace With Kosovo
Tensions are currently high between the two Balkan nations, as Belgrade continues refusing to recognize Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008.
There have been frequent bouts of unrest in Kosovo’s northern districts, including in May 2023 when clashes broke out between ethnic Serbs and Kosovo police.
Because of the escalating tensions, Pristina has ramped up defense spending, closing a deal with Turkey in mid-2023 for an unspecified number of Bayraktar TB-2 kamikaze drones.
Last week, Kosovo was also cleared to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles from the US in a potential deal worth $75 million.
Vučić immediately expressed his “disappointment” with the foreign military sales approval, saying he will continue to buy arms from China and other allies.