Serbia’s Ammunition Exports to Ukraine Worth $855 Million, Reports Say

Kiev’s Western backers use Belgrade’s arms exports to supply the Ukrainian military, the Financial Times has reported

The Financial Times (FT) reported on Saturday that a growing amount of Serbian-made ammunition is ending up in the hands of the Ukrainian military. The nation’s arms exports to Western countries are then being used by Kiev’s backers to supply Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, it said.

According to estimates obtained by the FT, Serbian ammunition exports worth €800 million ($855 million) have arrived in Ukraine via third parties. The news outlet said that the nation’s arms are cheaper than Western ones and its defense industry is still capable of producing Soviet-standard ammunition, which is still widely used by the Ukrainian military.

Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, did not officially confirm that his nation’s arms exports end up in Ukraine. In a conversation with the FT, he confirmed that the sum named by the media outlet roughly corresponds to the volume of Serbian ammunition exports over “two or three years.”

He also described Serbia’s growing arms trade with the West as an opportunity to support the national economy. The president also maintained his nation did not sell its arms to either Moscow or Kiev.

“This is a part of our economic revival and important for us. Yes, we do export our ammunition,” Vucic said. “We cannot export to Ukraine or to Russia … but we have had many contracts with Americans, Spaniards, Czechs, others. What they do with that in the end is their job.”

According to the president, Belgrade has no control over its arms or ammunition once it is sold. “That’s not my job,” he told the FT. “My job is to secure the fact that we deal legally with our ammunition, that we sell it . . . I need to take care of my people, and that’s it.” According to Vucic, Belgrade has “friends” both in Moscow and Kiev.

Belgrade has traditionally maintained close ties with Moscow and has striven to remain neutral since the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine broke out two years ago. Serbia officially condemned Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine, although it remains the only country in Eastern Europe – aside from Belarus – that has not imposed sanctions against Russia amid the conflict.

Vucic has said on numerous occasions that his government has come under pressure from Western powers to place restrictions on Moscow. In mid-April, he vowed to resist what he called the Western sanctions “blackmail” for as long as possible, adding that his nation was “proud” of its ironclad position on the conflict.

In May, the Serbian president warned that the ongoing standoff could spiral into a global conflict that would be worse than the Second World War. He also accused the global military industry of pushing for and prolonging the hostilities.

According to FT, turning Belgrade away from Moscow and pushing it towards supporting Kiev has been one of the major goals set by the West over the past years. “Europe and the US have worked for years to distance Vucic from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” a Western diplomat told the media outlet.

In his Saturday conversation with FT, Vucic praised Moscow’s success in adapting its economy to the times of conflict. “The Russians did a great job regarding renewal and the revival of their production of armament. They do it quickly, but when you need to make a profit, then it’s not easy,” he said.

The West still seeks to get maximum profits out of the ongoing standoff, he added. “In the United States and Germany, you cannot say now you’ll produce another tank without earning money.”