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Amid concerns in the West about Serbia’s close military and other ties with Russia, Serbia is to host a NATO emergency response exercise. The large-scale exercise which is scheduled to October will take place in Mladenovac, near Belgrade, and 30 countries will take part with about 1,000 participants.

The aim of the exercise is to improve interoperability in international disaster response operations. The choice of an earthquake scenario is linked to the type of geological and environmental challenges faced by Serbia, according to NATO’s website.

The scenario for this year’s EADRCC exercise “SRBIJA 2018” provides an opportunity to practice international cooperation and strengthen the ability of teams from different nations to work effectively together across a wide range of relief operations. These include urban search and rescue, medical/paramedical teams, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) protection, as well as decontamination teams and water rescue teams.

Meanwhile, Serbian media have focused more on a new military deal between Serbia and China, according to Deputy Defence Minister Nenad Miloradovic told Serbia’s Tanjug news agency on September 18 that Serbia had agreed to buy sophisticated weapons and military technology from China “which almost no country in its surroundings has”.

He said new combat drones will have the ability to scout, discover targets by day and at night, as well as the option of firing laser-guided bombs and rockets. The agreed deal, he said, will also include industrial cooperation and technology transfer.

The Serbian Army recently displayed the MIG jets it received earlier as a donation from Russia. However, the Defence Ministry has had to spend millions on their modernization.