- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2017

Amid charges that Russia has tried to meddle in the U.S. and other overseas election campaigns, the Kremlin pledged not to interfere in next month’s Serbian presidential election, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

In a conference call with reporters quoted by Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency, Mr. Peskov lauded the strong Russia-Serbia relationship. He added that, “no doubt, there can be no talk that the Kremlin interfered in any electoral processes.”

Mr. Peskov spoke during an official state visit to Moscow by Serbia’s prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, a week before the populist head of the Serbian Progressive Party stands for election in Serbia’s April 2 presidential poll.

Mr. Vucic is a blend of nationalist, pro-European Union reformer and Russian ally. Opposition parties argue he is running for the largely ceremonial post of the presidency to govern Serbia from behind the scenes. He hopes to win enough votes to avoid a runoff.

Serbian media speculated his Moscow trip was campaign theater to bolster his bid. He does return home with good news.

According to Serbian television broadcaster RTV Pink, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Vucic said Russia is giving Serbia six used MiG 29 fighter jets which will arrive “in a matter of days or weeks.” ITAR-Tass also reported that Russia will give Serbia free of charge 30 T-72 tanks and 30 BRDM-2 patrol combat vehicles.

On Friday, Mr. Putin hosted far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin. France holds the first round of its presidential election late next month and Ms. Le Pen’s visit was seen as gamesmanship by Mr. Putin to express his favorite in the race.

America’s top general in Europe, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, last week told the Senate Armed Services Committee that European governments must do more to confront Russia’s increasingly sophisticated information warfare attacks, including possible cyberstrikes on the upcoming German and French elections. Gen. Scaparrotti also raised the prospect of Russia’s increasing influence in Serbia.

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