The Serbian Army is to hold two military exercises with Russian armed forces, Slavic Brotherhood 2016, which starts in September, and BARS 2016 in October, the Serbian defence ministry told BIRN on Wednesday.

 

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“We emphasise that the main objectives of joint military exercises and training sessions with members of foreign armed forces are, above all, the improvement of the operational and functional capabilities of the Serbian Army,” the ministry said.

 

Slavic Brotherhood 2016 will be held in Serbia and run on into October, an exercise which is also expected to involve troops from Belarus.

 

“The joint exercises in Serbia will involve intelligence units and equipment drills,” Russian Major-General Alexander Vyaznikov told the RIA Novosti agency on Tuesday.

 

“At the moment, the issue of the participation of a third party, the Republic of Belarus, is still being decided. They will be a continuation of the Slavic Brotherhood exercises which were held last year near Novorossiysk, with the only difference being that then combined arms units participated [in the drills], while in Serbia it will involve intelligence units,” Vyaznikov added.

 

The Slavic Brotherhood exercises were established in 2014 when Russia and Serbia staged a joint anti-terrorist drill, codenamed SREM, near the northern Serbian town of Ruma. 

 

The BARS (Brotherhood of Aviators of Russia and Serbia) 2016 exercises will be carried out on land and in the air over Serbia in October.

 

According to the defence ministry, the exact dates of the October exercises will depend on weather conditions.

 

They will be held at Batajnica and Nis airports, where Russian and Serbian pilots will fly in mixed crews, mostly in MiG-29 aircraft and Mi-17 helicopters, which Belgrade recently bought from Russia.