© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets are parked on a runway during the air show at Batajnica military airfield in Belgrade, Serbia

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has authorised its defence ministry to open an office in Serbia, a government document showed, as Moscow pushes to expand military ties with its traditional Balkans ally even as Belgrade seeks to join the European Union.

Serbia last month suspended military drills with foreign troops for six months, citing pressure from the EU to withdraw from joint exercises with Russia and Belarus.

The Russian government order, dated Oct. 15 and signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, said the head of the proposed office would assist in resolving military and technical questions over Russian-Serbian cooperation.

The agreement, once signed by both parties, would give the Russian official in Serbia the right to visit Serbian divisions that use Russian weapons and military equipment, provided prior notice and consent were given.

Officials from Serbia’s defence ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

Serbia, whose military is based on ex-Soviet weapons technology, has procured MiG-29 fighter jets as well as helicopters, tanks and armoured personnel carriers from Russia in recent years.

On Oct. 10, in a show of revamped military power, Serbia’s army staged a major training exercise, demonstrating combat use of Russian-made weapons, including the Pantsir anti-aircraft system. It also displayed combat drones recently acquired from China.

Serbia is performing a delicate balancing act between its ambition to join the EU and its historical ties with Russia and China, which support its refusal to recognise the independence of its former southern province Kosovo.

Russia, meanwhile, is vying to keep fellow Orthodox Christian, Slavic Serbia within its sphere of geopolitical influence, with the opening of a defence ministry office a signal of Moscow’s intent.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.