Despite professing a policy of strict neutrality in the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Serbian government, under the leadership of President Aleksandar Vučić, has secretly agreed to supply weapons to Ukraine, or has done so already, according to a leaked secret Pentagon document.
It is one of many documents in a leaked trove of classified defense department material posted to various online platforms in recent weeks in what is beginning to look like the most significant leak of U.S. secrets in years.
According to a report from the news agency Reuters, the leaked U.S. intelligence document, titled “Response to Ongoing Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” provides a summary detailing European governments’ responses to Kyiv’s requests for arms and military training, giving the “assessed position” of each country.
Serbia, which, unlike the vast majority of European countries, has maintained close economic ties with Russia since the onset of the war, is assessed to have “provided or committed to provide lethal aid” to Ukraine. Furthermore, the report states that it has the “military ability” and the “political will” to provide weapons to Ukraine in the future.
“The document is marked Secret and NOFORN, prohibiting its distribution to foreign intelligence services and militaries. It is dated March 2, and embossed with the seal of the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” reported Reuters, noting—as other media outlets who’ve reported on the intel leaks have—that it has not been able to verify the authenticity of the document.
The news is likely to precipitate political controversy in Serbia given its strong support for Russia, one of the few countries which sided with Belgrade in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. A public opinion survey conducted by the Open Society Foundation and Datapraxi last year revealed that 66% of Serbs believe Russia to be their country’s “greatest friend.”
Furthermore, Serbia is the only country in Europe that has opposed all sanctions packages against Russia. The government of President Aleksandar Vučić has, at least outwardly, sought to maintain a balancing act, so as not to alienate Moscow and Beijing on one side or the U.S. and the EU on the other.
Serbian Defense Minister Miloš Vučević has dismissed the leaked intelligence report, calling the information contained within “untrue.” He also accused those responsible for leaking the document of seeking to drag Serbia into the war.
In a statement given on Wednesday, April 12th, Vučević said: “Serbia did not, nor will it be selling weapons to the Ukrainian nor the Russian side, nor to countries surrounding that conflict,” adding that “someone clearly wants to drag Serbia into that conflict but we are diligently maintaining our policies.”
The Serbian presidential office, the Ukrainian embassy in Belgrade, and the Pentagon have all refused to comment on the leak.