Russia continues to arm Balkan ally Serbia

Serbia's defense minister says the country is negotiating the purchase of Russian military helicopters and other equipment that has the potential to heighten tensions in the Balkans and increase Moscow's influence in the region.

Aleksandar Vulin told Serbia's state TV on Thursday that the "high level of military cooperation" between the two countries was agreed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during his visit to Moscow this week.

Vulin says Serbia wants to buy six MI-17 helicopters as well as form an overhaul base for the Russian choppers, which in effect would give Russian military personnel a presence in the region.

In October, the Serbian air force received six MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia, which has also promised the delivery of 30 tanks and armored vehicles.