NATO Tense as China Makes First Arms Sales in Europe

China sells attack drones to Serbia

Adding to hostility toward China, the US now intends to make the case that China is expanding its footprint into Europe, with the purchase of six attack drones by Serbia. This is the first purchase by Serbia.

The US takes it for granted that Europe is “NATO’s territory” and anyone who buys arms would get them from a NATO member, almost certainly the US. Serbia was always a special case, however, buying from Russia and getting warned all the time by the US to stop buying from Russia.

Since NATO hasn’t been on the best of terms with Serbia, however, and has gone to war with them in recent memory, it is perhaps a bit much to imagine they can count on Serbia as customers. China, as a much lower cost provider, is popular across much of the world.

Buying arms from the US is usually about paying for future favors from the US, and Serbia’s relatively small economy means they are more price sensitive than most in Europe. It probably doesn’t mean China is going to spread sales in the Balkans, however, with so many of the nations there now NATO members.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of