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Yugoslavia Table of Contents



Working relationships with the military establishments in a wide range of foreign countries were an important facet of Yugoslavia's nonaligned foreign policy. Maintenance of such links guaranteed flexibility in dealing with unforeseen events and provided maximum access to advanced foreign military technology. However, by 1990 foreign military ties had become a major source of domestic political controversy.

The Yugoslav military had a longstanding relationship with its Soviet counterpart. Between 1945 and 1948, the Soviet military had a strong formative influence on the new Yugoslav army. The Soviet model was followed in organization, training, and even uniform style. The Soviet Union built some of the first military infrastructure, including airfields, command posts, and coastal gun emplacements, for the Tito government. Although damaged by Tito's 1948 break with Stalin, military ties were renewed quickly after Soviet-Yugoslav relations were normalized in 1956. Annual bilateral exchanges began between the general staffs of the two countries.

Although such cooperation gave the Soviet Union considerable influence with the Yugoslav military, Yugoslavia rebuffed Soviet requests for formal naval base access and airfield landing rights, offering instead case-by-case consideration. Landing rights were granted Soviet aircraft during the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars. Yugoslavia established a regular contract to maintain and repair Soviet submarines and submarine tenders in its shipyard at Kotor. Military ties to other countries including the United States served to balance these accommodations to the Soviets. The federal secretary for national defense last made an official visit to Washington in 1984.

Data as of December 1990