Croatia-Serbia: a mini-arms race in the Balkans?

18 February 2019

Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers and Buk anti-aircraft missiles, Kiowa Warrior and Mi-35 helicopters, F-16 and MiG-29 fighters, ... Croatia and Serbia's arms purchases seem to respond to each other, and some fear a repetition of the 1990s scenario, when the rivalry between the two Yugoslav republics led the Balkans into a bloody conflict.

This note first explains the origin of the armed forces of both countries and their respective evolutions, then sets out various indicators (military expenditures, arms imports, manoeuvres, etc.) that can be used to assess their respective military strength.

This suggests that while both countries are in the process of renewing their weapons, the level of rearmament remains rather modest at the European level. Above all, the absence of any real point of contention seems to rule out any risk of armed conflict in the short term.

Crédit photo : MiG-29 livrés par la Russie lors de leur présentation à l’aéroport militaire de Batajnica, près de Belgrade, en octobre 2017