Special US envoy, Thomas Zarzecki coming to Belgrade to warn Serbia of possible US sanctions?

Thomas Zarzecki, who heads the US State Department’s Task Force 231, will arrive in Belgrade on Friday.

The task force is in charge of applying sanctions to the Russian security sector and those who cooperate with it.

Zarzecki’s visit was scheduled immediately after it was announced that Serbia had purchased the Russian air defence system, Pantsir.

The US regulation, of which Zarzecki is responsible for enforcing, is formally called The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and stipulates penalizing mechanism of any individual, firm, or state, who is found to have deliberately engaged in “significant exchanges” with the military and intelligence sectors of the Russian Federation.

This document also lists companies in the Russian defence industry that are banned to cooperate with under US regulations. Among the “forbidden” companies are several companies with which Serbia has cooperated with or procured military equipment from.

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Among others, there is a KBP bureau which designed Pantsir and aircraft manufacturer MiG, as well as a public company ROE, through which all sales of Russian arms and military equipment are carried out.

The “blacklist” also includes the company Russian Helicopter, which operates a well-known institute in Kazan that produces the Mi-17 helicopters Serbian government purchased and the Mi-35 (the so-called “tank killer”) that our country has ordered as well.

“We know what is forbidden”

State Department official Matthew Palmer, who has been touring the Balkans in recent days, told Skopje that “the possibility for Serbia to seek specific Russian defence systems would lead to the risk of sanctions”. However, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who met with Palmer, said there was no reason to impose sanctions on the purchase of Russian military equipment:

“We are not stupid and we know what is allowed,” said Dacic.

(Vecernje Novosti, 06.11.2019)




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