Sunday, April 10, 2022

China send a fleet of Y-20 transport planes loaded with missiles to Serbia

    Sunday, April 10, 2022   No comments

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Russian ally Serbia took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a veiled operation this weekend, amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans at the time of the war in Ukraine could threaten the fragile peace in the region.

Media and military experts said Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early Saturday, reportedly carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport. Serbia’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment.

The arms delivery over the territory of at least two NATO member states, Turkey and Bulgaria, was seen by experts as a demonstration of China’s growing global reach.

“The Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights,” wrote The Warzone online magazine. “The Y-20′s presence in Europe in any numbers is also still a fairly new development.”

Serbian military analyst Aleksandar Radic said that “the Chinese carried out their demonstration of force.”

read more from the AP story...

China's major English language online outlet said this about the event:

A fleet of six Y-20 cargo planes of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force was reportedly spotted in Serbia on Saturday, with observers saying on Sunday that it could be the largest overseas operation by the Chinese domestically developed large transport plane yet, displaying the country's strategic transport capabilities.

Citing commercial flight trackers, US news website reported on Saturday that the six Y-20 aircraft were first spotted heading west in Turkish airspace late Friday night, and later local residents took photos of the Y-20s, which allegedly landed in Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Serbia. The aircraft later flew over the Bosphorus Strait in Turkey again on their way back to China.

China has not made an official announcement about the mission as of press time, but the Global Times learned that the Y-20s indeed have carried out such a flight.

Read GT story here...

Analysts have already connected this event to the war in Ukraine.

As the Ukraine war rages on, Serbia is feeling the heat because of its ties with Russia. While in the U.N. General Assembly, Serbia voted in favor of the resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian territorial integrity, Belgrade avoided imposing economic sanctions against Russia.

With its partnership with Russia under duress, Serbian ties with Beijing appear carefree in comparison. Indeed, the war in Ukraine provides Serbia with an opportunity to continue and boost the policy, which was already unfolding even before the war, of replacing Russia with China as Serbia’s primary non-Western partner. This policy is even more appealing as Serbia is about to undergo an electoral cycle in April 2022, making China a perfect instrument of domestic promotion for the Serbian leadership.



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