Moscow sent its latest S-400 Triumf and Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems to the Balkans for their first-ever exercise abroad.
The S-400s, along with a battery of Pantsirs, were deployed at Batajnica Air Base, 25km from Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday. They are there to take part in the ‘Slavic Shield 2019’ joint military drill.
It is the first Russian-Serbian exercise of its kind, as well as the first time Moscow’s state-of-the-art air defense missile systems have taken part in a drill abroad.
Serbian troops had the opportunity to observe the S-400s in action last month, when the first phase of the drill was launched in southern Russia.
The countries share a long history of friendly relations and, despite being surrounded by NATO member states, Belgrade remains Russia’s closest ally in the Balkans. Last year, Russia delivered jets, helicopters, tanks, APCs, and radars to Serbia. The country is currently expecting a delivery of Pantsir-S1s, while some of its politicians expressed interest in obtaining S-400s as well.
S-400s were recently purchased by Turkey and India. Both states were pressured by the US to scrap the contracts but went ahead with the deals anyway.