Russia's minister for emergency situations said Wednesday his country does not plan to set up a military base in Serbia that could spy on a planned US missile shield to be deployed in neighboring countries.
Sergey Shoigu said such reports in Serbian and foreign media are "complete nonsense."
The reports began in October when it was announced during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit that the Kremlin and Belgrade had agreed to form a joint "emergency response center" at an airport in the central Serbian city of Nis.
Shoigu said the center will house emergency relief experts and their equipment, and is intended to fight major forest fires, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. He said the center will offer emergency relief aid throughout the Balkans.