Serbian Prime Minister on discussions in Moscow in response to increased arms coming to the region.
“We do not interfere in what other countries are doing, we do not feel threatened. But, we feel there are some problems and that is what we have been talking about with our partners in Moscow. The thing is, some countries in our region have begun ordering ballistic missiles. I do not know why anyone in our region would have ballistic missiles. Either they will have to change their mind, or we will have to find an answer to that”, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said in a recent interview, reports Jutarnji List on December 29, 2015.
Although he never mentioned Croatia, Vučić very openly sent a message to Croatia to stop the process of acquiring ballistic missiles for multiple rocket launchers M270 MLRS. He very openly said that during a recent visit to Moscow he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in arms procurement if Croatia were to acquire ballistic missiles for the system.
Croatian Defence Ministry has asked the Pentagon to donate 16 mobile multiple rocket launchers M270 MLRS from US military surplus, through the program of assistance for allied countries. Launchers are armed with 240 mm calibre rockets, and the Defence Ministry plans to purchase several ballistic missiles with a range of 300 kilometres. Unofficial sources say that a Croatian military delegation recently visited the United States to examine the rocket launchers. Due to the current political situation in Croatia, the procurement process has been temporarily stopped. The outgoing defence minister and government cannot make such decisions, while chief of general staff’s term will expire in just two months. Therefore, the whole idea will be discussed once again after the new government, the new defence minister and the new chief of general staff are elected.
From the moment the information that Croatia intends to acquire ballistic missiles with a range of 300 kilometres was announced, Serbia has not stopped making pressure on Croatia to abandon the idea, and Vučić has now revealed that he had asked Russia for help and weapons if Croatia actually acquires the rockets. However, most people in Croatia believe that Croatia should not accept these pressure and should think only about its own interests when making the final decision.
The acquisition of ballistic missiles would completely change the geostrategic situation and military balance in the region. It remains unknown whether Croatia would acquire all 16 launchers, as originally announced, or whether the number would be a bit smaller. One ballistic missile of this type costs about two million dollars, and in addition to ballistic missiles Croatia would buy a larger number of HE-FRAG 240 mm rockets, which are the basic ammunition for this missile system.
Sources claim that the missile system is a deterrent and that the Croatian Army would gain the ability of conducting strategic missile strikes deep into the enemy territory and thus acquire capability of deterring enemy attacks. Moreover, it would replace existing multiple launch systems used by armed forces inherited from the former Yugoslav Army. The missile systems would be operational starting from 2017. By then, the army should also have PzH 2000 howitzers, Kiowa helicopters and probably several drones.