The Pantsir-S1 air defense system serves as a deterrent, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Monday.
Vulin’s comments come after Serbia on Saturday received the first of six shipments of the anti-aircraft defense system under an agreement signed with Russia in late 2019.
President Aleksandar Vucic emphasized that with the delivery of the system, Serbia continues to strengthen its ability to remain militarily neutral.
Serbia is currently the only country with such a system in the region.
Vulin told the media that the purchase of the Pantsir-S1 system sends a message to both friends and foes that no one can “talk to Belgrade by force.”
"Pantsir is a serious anti-aircraft system, but the main purpose of our army is deterrence. You prepare yourself for the worst during peacetime, not when the worst happens,'' he said.
Vulin also announced that on April 23, the Army of Serbia Day (VS), they will exhibit everything new in the military.
Meanwhile, NATO expressed support for Serbia’s move.
"Serbia has the right to freely choose its political and security arrangements. NATO and Serbia are close partners, and we are committed to strengthening our partnership with Serbia with full respect for its policy of neutrality," the military alliance said in a statement to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
But Matthew Palmer, the U.S. special representative for the Western Balkans, warned Serbia earlier that the purchase of Russian weapons "poses a risk" of U.S. sanctions.
Serbian emphasized then that the missile system is a guarantor of long-term peace in the region.
According to Serbia, the missile system will be used to protect critical points such as airports and command and contact centers from possible attacks by both manned and unmanned aircraft as well as helicopters.
The Pantsir S-1 was exhibited alongside Russian S-400 missile systems during a military exercise in Serbia in October.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.