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Serbia ‘deeply disappointed’ as Kosovo seeks purchase of US anti-tank missiles

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The United States has received Kosovo’s request to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles, the U.S. ambassador to Serbia on Thursday told President Aleksandar Vučić, who expressed “deep disappointment.”

The U.S. State Department said later Thursday that it approved the possible sale of the 246 missiles and related equipment to Kosovo for an estimated cost of $75 million.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security of the United States by improving the security of a European partner which is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe,” the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said.

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A statement by Vučić’s office said U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill told him that the U.S. State Department will send Kosovo’s request to Congress, which reviews foreign arms sales.

Kosovo is a former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008. The U.S. and most Western nations recognize Kosovo’s statehood, while Serbia as well as allies Russia and China don’t.

Soldiers perform drills at Batajnica, a military airport near Belgrade, Serbia, Oct. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

Serbia’s president said that “for us, it is of great importance that the peace in the region is not broken and that Serbia will continue to act responsibly and contribute to stability in the Balkans.”

The proposed sale of the missile system to Kosovo comes during tensions in the region. Several times in recent months, Serbia has moved its troops to the border that is guarded by NATO-led peacekeeping troops and Kosovo’s armed forces, in what were seen by the West as hostile actions.

Vučić asserted this month that Serbia has one of the strongest armies in the Balkans, noting the “great number” of tanks it had received from Russia before its invasion of Ukraine. He pledged to continue buying arms from China and other countries, including anti-aircraft systems, fighter planes and drones.

The Javelin missile system has been used by Ukrainian forces to destroy Russian tanks and other armored vehicles.

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Kosovo has boosted its armed forces with drones and anti-tank missiles mostly from Turkey, which has angered Belgrade.

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