US delivers choppers to Croatia, as Russia and China arm Serbia — Analysis

Washington’s reward, introduced two years in the past, was adopted by a multimillion-dollar buy of two extra plane

The US delivered two Sikorski UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Zagreb’s Franjo Tudman Airport. The plane have been donated to Croatia as a part of a navy help program and arrived amid what some have described as an escalating arms race between Serbia and its neighbors.

Asserting the supply on Thursday, US Chargé d’Affaires Mark Fleming stated the Balkan nation “has earned a status as a dedicated and succesful NATO Ally,” and that the cargo “will additional enhance the capacities of the Croatian Armed Forces.”

The US Embassy in Zagreb estimated the worth of the {hardware} at round $54.8 million, saying it was a part of $685 million price of navy help acquired by Croatia from Washington. Protection cooperation is the cornerstone of relations between the 2 nations, the diplomatic mission stated in a press release on Thursday’s supply.

The donation of the Sikorsky helicopters was introduced in 2019 and was adopted by Zagreb’s buy of two extra rotorcraft at an estimated value of $115 million. Senior Croatian protection officers visited the manufacturing amenities of the Lockheed Martin-owned firm final yr throughout an official go to to the US. Croatian pilots and floor crew acquired coaching in Minnesota to discover ways to function the US-made helicopters.

Croatia has been working for many years to interchange the stockpiles of Soviet-made weapons it saved after splitting from Yugoslavia, with these made by the US and different NATO members. Final yr, it bought 12 Rafale fighter jets from France, and in January it introduced an settlement to purchase 89 Bradley Preventing Autos from the US. Croatia joined NATO in 2009.

Some media contrasted Zagreb’s alignment with Washington and Brussels to the place of Serbia, its opponent through the Nineties Croatian Warfare of Independence. Belgrade, which says it desires to change into a member of the EU, depends on its conventional accomplice, Russia, and extra lately on China, for weapons procurement.

Croatian president calls PM ‘Ukrainian agent’

Final month, Serbia welcomed a cargo of Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles, which the president known as an “necessary defensive instrument to discourage anybody from potential aggression in opposition to our nation.”

Final yr, the nation bought superior Pantsir S1M air protection methods from Russia, on high of the six older variations it acquired in 2019. It additionally acquired a donation of 30 T-72MS tanks and 30 BRDM-2MS armored reconnaissance automobiles.

In 2020, Serbia bought CH-92A armed drones from China, spending an estimated $19.3 million.

Some observers say the weapons procurements quantity to a mini arms race within the Balkans, going down amid rising tensions between Russia and NATO.

Final month, Croatia turned tousled within the slow-burning battle after the president promised to not contain his nation’s troops in any potential Russia-NATO battle over Ukraine. His statements have been contradicted by the prime minister, which led to a public feud between senior officers over what advantages Croatia’s nationwide pursuits most.

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