BELGRADE, April 9 (Reuters) – Serbia could soon sign a deal on the procurement of 12 Rafale multi-purpose fighter jets from France, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday.

Vucic, who is on a two-day visit to France, said he and President Emmanuel Macron reached concrete agreements over the purchase of the Rafale planes.

“The contract is expected to be signed in the next two months and in the presence of the president of France,” he told Serbian journalists in Paris.

The purchase of Rafales from France would mark a shift away from Russia as a traditional weapons supplier and could strain political ties between Belgrade and Moscow.

Last year, Vucic told Reuters that 12 new Rafale jets could cost the Balkan country around 3 billion euros ($3.26 billion).

Serbia, a candidate to join the European Union, has one of the largest militaries in the Balkans which is still reliant on Soviet-designed aircraft, such as MiG-29 jets and MI-35 helicopter gunships, alongside Russian missiles and tanks.

Photo Rob Vogelaar

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