Although the top leaders of the Russian state have been increasingly swearing in the Russian-Serbian brotherhood and good relations between the two countries, the Ministry of Civil Protection, Emergency Situations and the Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters of the Russian Federation has charged Serbia for sending an “Ilushin aircraft” whose engagement was officially requested by the Serbian government to put out fires in Stara Planina. This large Russian aircraft, which has repeatedly proved to be the most successful in extinguishing fires around the world, flew from Russia to Serbia only when the Serbian government paid for it and allocated around EUR 62,500 (or RSD 22.5 million) from the budget reserves. This is surprising, for example, if one considers that the State of Israel, which has highly trained civil protection units never charges for similar services. The Stara Planina fire broke out on 26th October and was definitely extinguished in beginning of November. Members of the Serbian fire brigades and gendarmerie, as well as forestry workers themselves, extinguished it for six days in impossible conditions, as the fire spread on mountainous and inaccessible terrain, which made everyone deserving of awards. Unfortunately, the Russian plane “Ilushin” landed in Serbia only a week after the fire broke out, when the Serbian government paid the Russian ministry for its usage. After the “Ilushin” the fire was in all places definitely extinguished. This is not surprising considering that the aircraft can carry and dump 42 tons of water at once into the endangered area. Therefore, there is no doubt that the firestorm on Stara Planina would be very quickly localized and extinguished if this plane had flown earlier.
Dragan Shormaz, MP in the Serbian Parliament, reacted to the situation and told the Serbian Telegraph the following:
“It is well known that hiring Ilushin costs. I would not go into whether this is a price for Russian aid and humanity, but the point is that we exaggerate a little when it comes to the Russians. Brotherhood for brotherhood, money for cheese. Our expectations from Russia are unrealistic and exaggerated”, he said.
The Ilushin case is not the first evidence that Russia views its relationship with Serbia primarily through interest and business glasses. Recently, it was sensationalized in the Serbian media that, thanks to the agreement with the Eurasian Union, Serbia would be able to export to the Russian market and several other countries a certain amount of goat’s and sheep’s cheese, cigarettes, vignettes and fruit brandy. However, it is almost forgotten that during earlier meetings of President Vucic with his Russian counterpart, Putin, there was talk about the possibility of Serbia exporting cars to the Russian market from the “Fiat`s” factory in Kragujevac. However, even today, these exports have not been realized. Russia did not allow this, on the grounds that Fiat is an Italian product, regardless of the fact that the car is being made in Serbia. The real truth is that the Serbian Fiat did not get the green light for the Russian market, so as not to compete with cars made by Russian factories.