- Title: Russia, Belarus hold war games with EU hopeful Serbia
- Date: 7th November 2016
- Summary: KOVIN, SERBIA (NOVEMBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) IL-76 PLANE IN AIR/ PARATROOPERS JUMPING FROM PLANE
- Embargoed: 22nd November 2016 16:59
- Keywords: Russia Belarus Serbia EU NATO military drills
- Location: KOVIN, SERBIA
- City: KOVIN, SERBIA
- Country: Serbia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00257G3EIV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Russian, Belarussian and Serbian paratroopers practiced air drops together on Monday (November 7) as part of joint week-long drills that highlighted Serbia's diplomatic tightrope act between Moscow and the West.
The "Slavic Brotherhood" exercise included an air drop of three Russian BMD-2 armoured personnel carriers from an Ilyushin 76 cargo plane, a Serbian unit parachuting from a helicopter and a raid by a combined Belarussian-Serbian unit landing from a helicopter.
"Today you could see here three armies, speaking different languages and wearing different uniforms, working together successfully in tasks of combating terrorism," said Serbian General Zoran Velickovic, who was in charge of planning the exercise.
The first Slavic Brotherhood exercise took place in Serbia in 2014, last year it was held in Russia. In 2017 it is set to be held for the first time in Belarus.
Around 300 Russian and Belarussian soldiers arrived in Belgrade on November 3 for the war games as NATO was concluding its disaster-relief training in neighbouring Montenegro, also with the participation of Serbian soldiers.
The overlapping drills highlighted wrangling between Russia and NATO, confronted over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, for influence over Balkan countries, with Serbia in particular performing a balancing act between the two sides.
Serbia is negotiating EU accession and became a part of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme in 2006, but nurtures traditionally close ties with its superpower patron and fellow Orthodox Christian state Russia.
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