With Sensors and Apps, Young African Coders Compete to Curb Hunger

From an app to diagnose disease on Zambian farms to Tinder-style matchmaking for Senegalese land owners and young farmers, young coders have been finding solutions to hunger in the first Africa-wide hackathon on the issue.

Eight teams competed in the hackathon, organized by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a Rwandan trade organization in the country’s capital Kigali this week.

Experts say keeping young people in farming is key to alleviating hunger in Africa, which has 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land, but spends $35 billion a year on importing food for its growing population.

“In our families, agriculture is no longer a good business. They don’t get the return,” said Rwandan Ndayisaba Wilson, 24, whose team proposed a $400 solar-powered device that can optimize water and fertilizer use.

“We believe that if the technology is good and farmers can see the benefits, they will adopt it.”

Among the proposed solutions were an app that links aspiring farmers with land owners in Senegal and a Nigerian mobile platform that uses blockchain to help farmers demonstrate their creditworthiness to lenders.

The winner was AgriPredict, an app already operating in Zambia that that can help farmers identify diseases and pests – including the voracious fall armyworm, which eats crops and has wreaked havoc in much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Farmers can access it directly from their phones or via Facebook. CEO Mwila Kangwa, 31, said the initiative came out of the twin disasters that hit Zambian farmers in 2016 – tuta absoluta, a tomato disease, and the fall armyworm.

“We noticed there were no tools whatsoever that will help farmers mitigate or prevent or even counter these diseases so we came up with this idea of creating a software to help farmers,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

As winners, the Zambian team will receive coaching from the FAO to refine their product and an opportunity to meet potential funders and partners.

“What they brought was a technically sound solution … and the ability to convey the message to young people by using, for example, Facebook,” said Henry van Burgsteden, IT officer for digital innovation at the FAO and one of the judges.

The hackathon was held during a conference in Kigali on ways to attract more young people to agriculture through information and communication technology tools.

High unemployment and the challenges of rural life mean many young people desert farming for the city, while aging farmers struggle with climate change, poverty and poor infrastructure.

IATA: Mexico’s New Airport Crucial for Passenger Growth

Mexico risks losing long-term passenger growth and billions of dollars if it fails to go through with building a new hub in the capital to alleviate congestion, an executive with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.

Mexico’s incoming government last week postponed a decision on whether to complete a partially constructed new airport in Mexico City, saying the public should be consulted on the fate of the $13-billion hub, which the next president initially opposed.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the project was tainted by corruption prior to his July 1 landslide election victory, and had pressed for an existing military airport north of the capital to be expanded instead.

Without the new airport, around 20 million fewer passengers would fly to Mexico City starting in 2035, year over year, said Peter Cerda, regional vice president in the Americas for IATA.

It would also mean a long-term loss of $20 billion from Mexico’s GDP and cost the country 200,000 jobs, according to an airline-industry study on the financial impact of not building the new airport, Cerda said.

IATA, the Montreal-based trade association, has 290 member airlines which together transport about 82 percent of global air traffic.

Passenger traffic is expected to double by 2035 on a global basis, including Latin America, Cerda said in an interview.

“If you don’t build an airport that’s able to meet the needs of the next 50 years you just cannot continue to grow,” Cerda said on the sidelines of the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver. “And that has financial implications for the country.”

Work began on the new airport, which is a few miles northeast of the current one, in 2015. The present airport, located in the east of Mexico City, has become increasingly saturated by rising air traffic and has no room to expand.

“This is an airport that was built for 32 million passengers a year and currently we have 45 million passengers traveling through,” Cerda said.

Cerda urged Mexico to make any decision on “technical justifications” rather than “public outcry that may not fully understand the consequences.”

IATA: Mexico’s New Airport Crucial for Passenger Growth

Mexico risks losing long-term passenger growth and billions of dollars if it fails to go through with building a new hub in the capital to alleviate congestion, an executive with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Tuesday.

Mexico’s incoming government last week postponed a decision on whether to complete a partially constructed new airport in Mexico City, saying the public should be consulted on the fate of the $13-billion hub, which the next president initially opposed.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the project was tainted by corruption prior to his July 1 landslide election victory, and had pressed for an existing military airport north of the capital to be expanded instead.

Without the new airport, around 20 million fewer passengers would fly to Mexico City starting in 2035, year over year, said Peter Cerda, regional vice president in the Americas for IATA.

It would also mean a long-term loss of $20 billion from Mexico’s GDP and cost the country 200,000 jobs, according to an airline-industry study on the financial impact of not building the new airport, Cerda said.

IATA, the Montreal-based trade association, has 290 member airlines which together transport about 82 percent of global air traffic.

Passenger traffic is expected to double by 2035 on a global basis, including Latin America, Cerda said in an interview.

“If you don’t build an airport that’s able to meet the needs of the next 50 years you just cannot continue to grow,” Cerda said on the sidelines of the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver. “And that has financial implications for the country.”

Work began on the new airport, which is a few miles northeast of the current one, in 2015. The present airport, located in the east of Mexico City, has become increasingly saturated by rising air traffic and has no room to expand.

“This is an airport that was built for 32 million passengers a year and currently we have 45 million passengers traveling through,” Cerda said.

Cerda urged Mexico to make any decision on “technical justifications” rather than “public outcry that may not fully understand the consequences.”

El Salvador Denies Money Behind Cutting Ties with Taiwan

El Salvador is denying asking Taiwan for large sums of money in return for maintaining diplomatic relations with Taipei, before Tuesday switching ties to China.

In an interview with state television Tuesday, presidential spokesman Roberto Lorenzana called Taiwan’s allegations “totally false.”

Lorenzana said the decision to break ties with Taiwan and switch allegiance to China was based on the advantages of trading with an economic giant.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu had accused El Salvador of continuously asking for funding for a port development project that Taipei felt was financially unsustainable. He said the denial of funds is what led San Salvador to abandon its partner of more than 80 years.

El Salvador’s foreign minister, Carlos Castaneda, signed an agreement with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during a ceremony in the Chinese capital. Yi said the people of El Salvador will enjoy tangible benefits from the new bilateral relationship.

In a speech announcing the diplomatic switch, El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said his government was certain “it was a step in the right direction” that corresponds to “the inevitable trends of our time.”

The move prompted the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes, to tweet late Monday that the decision “is worrisome for many reasons” and “without doubt, this will impact our relationship with the (Salvadoran) government.”

The United States formally recognizes only China, but it maintains a de facto embassy known as the American Institute in Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and refuses to recognize its right to exist as a self-governing state.

Abandoning Taiwan

El Salvador is the third nation to abandon Taiwan for China this year, following on the heels of the Dominican Republic and the West African nation of Burkina Faso, leaving just 17 small, poor countries to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-we vowed that the island would not cave to pressure during a press conference Tuesday in response to the diplomatic switch, saying Taiwan was more determined to preserve its self-rule. 

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after Chaing Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces were driven off the mainland by Mao Zedong’s communists and sought refuge on the island of Taiwan. Beijing considers the island a renegade province that should be reunified with the mainland — by force, if necessary.

China has ramped up efforts to cut Taiwan off from the rest of the world since Tsai Ing-we, the leader of the pro-democracy Democratic Progressive Party, took office in 2016 and refused to accept the long-standing “one China” principle.

Two other nations, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama, have switched their diplomatic relations to Beijing during Tsai’s tenure, and Beijing has successfully blocked Taipei from participating in various global forums and agencies. 

It recently pressured dozens of international air carriers to either switch references of Taiwan to “Taiwan, China,” or remove Taiwan from the results of its destination searches, using the island’s capital instead. 

El Salvador Denies Money Behind Cutting Ties with Taiwan

El Salvador is denying asking Taiwan for large sums of money in return for maintaining diplomatic relations with Taipei, before Tuesday switching ties to China.

In an interview with state television Tuesday, presidential spokesman Roberto Lorenzana called Taiwan’s allegations “totally false.”

Lorenzana said the decision to break ties with Taiwan and switch allegiance to China was based on the advantages of trading with an economic giant.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu had accused El Salvador of continuously asking for funding for a port development project that Taipei felt was financially unsustainable. He said the denial of funds is what led San Salvador to abandon its partner of more than 80 years.

El Salvador’s foreign minister, Carlos Castaneda, signed an agreement with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during a ceremony in the Chinese capital. Yi said the people of El Salvador will enjoy tangible benefits from the new bilateral relationship.

In a speech announcing the diplomatic switch, El Salvador President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said his government was certain “it was a step in the right direction” that corresponds to “the inevitable trends of our time.”

The move prompted the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes, to tweet late Monday that the decision “is worrisome for many reasons” and “without doubt, this will impact our relationship with the (Salvadoran) government.”

The United States formally recognizes only China, but it maintains a de facto embassy known as the American Institute in Taiwan.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and refuses to recognize its right to exist as a self-governing state.

Abandoning Taiwan

El Salvador is the third nation to abandon Taiwan for China this year, following on the heels of the Dominican Republic and the West African nation of Burkina Faso, leaving just 17 small, poor countries to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-we vowed that the island would not cave to pressure during a press conference Tuesday in response to the diplomatic switch, saying Taiwan was more determined to preserve its self-rule. 

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after Chaing Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces were driven off the mainland by Mao Zedong’s communists and sought refuge on the island of Taiwan. Beijing considers the island a renegade province that should be reunified with the mainland — by force, if necessary.

China has ramped up efforts to cut Taiwan off from the rest of the world since Tsai Ing-we, the leader of the pro-democracy Democratic Progressive Party, took office in 2016 and refused to accept the long-standing “one China” principle.

Two other nations, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama, have switched their diplomatic relations to Beijing during Tsai’s tenure, and Beijing has successfully blocked Taipei from participating in various global forums and agencies. 

It recently pressured dozens of international air carriers to either switch references of Taiwan to “Taiwan, China,” or remove Taiwan from the results of its destination searches, using the island’s capital instead. 

US Lawmakers Seek to Impose More Sanctions on ‘Menace’ Russia

U.S. lawmakers pushed for more aggressive steps to counteract the Russian “menace” on Tuesday, despite Trump administration officials insisting current sanctions were having an effect and vowing to impose more economic pain if Moscow does not change its behavior.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would like better ties with Moscow, but although he met Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, relations between the two countries have been further strained.

Members of Congress, where both chambers are controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, have called for more action, including introducing new sanctions legislation “from hell,” to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea, involvement in Syria’s civil war and cyberattacks seeking to influence U.S. elections.

They held three hearings related to Russia on Tuesday, in the Banking and Foreign Relations committees and a Judiciary counterterrorism subcommittee. Lawmakers chastised administration officials for doing too little to change Russian behavior.

Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized Trump, particularly after his Helsinki summit with Putin last month, for failing to stand up to Moscow and not fully enacting a sweeping sanctions law passed nearly unanimously a year ago.

“It’s not often that Congress acts together in such a strong manner,” said Republican Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the Banking Committee, which oversees sanctions policy. “… But then, Russia is a menace on so many different levels, today, that Congress can be compelled to act with a single voice.”

Senator Bob Menendez noted that the administration has not designated any new oligarchs for sanctions since April and has eased some sanctions.

“We’re told to judge the administration by its actions and not the president’s words, but these actions seem to be more aligned with the president’s accommodating and disturbing rhetoric than a tougher approach to the Kremlin,” Menendez said at the banking hearing.

Menendez vowed that Congress will act, with or without the administration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters later Tuesday there was strong interest in legislation to punish Moscow, although he said chances were “probably pretty slim” such a measure would come up for a vote before the Nov. 6 congressional elections.

New cyberattacks

Microsoft said late Monday that hackers linked to the Kremlin sought to launch cyberattacks on the Senate and conservative American think tanks, warning of broader attacks ahead of the November vote.

The Kremlin rejected the Microsoft allegations.

Moscow has repeatedly denied attempting to influence U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential vote that brought Trump into office.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in 2016, seeking to tilt the vote in Trump’s favor, and, backed by lawmakers, warned that more would come in upcoming elections.

“America is under cyberattack. We’re beginning to act, but not quick enough and not forcefully enough,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said at the Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

‘Economic pain’

Administration officials insisted existing sanctions were hitting Russia.

“Though Russia’s malign activities continue, we believe its adventurism undoubtedly has been checked by the knowledge that we can bring much more economic pain to bear using our powerful range of authorities — and that we will not hesitate to do so if its conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change,” senior Treasury official Sigal Mandelker told the banking panel.

The Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on two Russians, one Russian company and one Slovakian firm over actions it said helped another Russian company avoid penalties over cyber-related activities.

The United States also announced sanctions on Russian shipping over violations of U.N. restrictions on North Korea.

Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told Foreign Relations that concern about sanctions has cost Russia $8 to $10 billion in arms deals. Mitchell also said foreign direct investment in Russia has fallen by 80 percent since 2013, “which is a pretty stunning number.”

“I think this administration has been clear that we are prepared to take additional steps,” Mitchell said. “There is an escalatory ladder to sanctions. We are aware of what additional steps would be needed to make an even bigger point.”

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump said he would only consider lifting sanctions against Russia if it were to do something positive for the United States, for instance in Syria or in Ukraine.

US Lawmakers Seek to Impose More Sanctions on ‘Menace’ Russia

U.S. lawmakers pushed for more aggressive steps to counteract the Russian “menace” on Tuesday, despite Trump administration officials insisting current sanctions were having an effect and vowing to impose more economic pain if Moscow does not change its behavior.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would like better ties with Moscow, but although he met Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, relations between the two countries have been further strained.

Members of Congress, where both chambers are controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, have called for more action, including introducing new sanctions legislation “from hell,” to punish Russia for its annexation of Crimea, involvement in Syria’s civil war and cyberattacks seeking to influence U.S. elections.

They held three hearings related to Russia on Tuesday, in the Banking and Foreign Relations committees and a Judiciary counterterrorism subcommittee. Lawmakers chastised administration officials for doing too little to change Russian behavior.

Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized Trump, particularly after his Helsinki summit with Putin last month, for failing to stand up to Moscow and not fully enacting a sweeping sanctions law passed nearly unanimously a year ago.

“It’s not often that Congress acts together in such a strong manner,” said Republican Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the Banking Committee, which oversees sanctions policy. “… But then, Russia is a menace on so many different levels, today, that Congress can be compelled to act with a single voice.”

Senator Bob Menendez noted that the administration has not designated any new oligarchs for sanctions since April and has eased some sanctions.

“We’re told to judge the administration by its actions and not the president’s words, but these actions seem to be more aligned with the president’s accommodating and disturbing rhetoric than a tougher approach to the Kremlin,” Menendez said at the banking hearing.

Menendez vowed that Congress will act, with or without the administration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters later Tuesday there was strong interest in legislation to punish Moscow, although he said chances were “probably pretty slim” such a measure would come up for a vote before the Nov. 6 congressional elections.

New cyberattacks

Microsoft said late Monday that hackers linked to the Kremlin sought to launch cyberattacks on the Senate and conservative American think tanks, warning of broader attacks ahead of the November vote.

The Kremlin rejected the Microsoft allegations.

Moscow has repeatedly denied attempting to influence U.S. elections, including the 2016 presidential vote that brought Trump into office.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in 2016, seeking to tilt the vote in Trump’s favor, and, backed by lawmakers, warned that more would come in upcoming elections.

“America is under cyberattack. We’re beginning to act, but not quick enough and not forcefully enough,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said at the Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

‘Economic pain’

Administration officials insisted existing sanctions were hitting Russia.

“Though Russia’s malign activities continue, we believe its adventurism undoubtedly has been checked by the knowledge that we can bring much more economic pain to bear using our powerful range of authorities — and that we will not hesitate to do so if its conduct does not demonstrably and significantly change,” senior Treasury official Sigal Mandelker told the banking panel.

The Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on two Russians, one Russian company and one Slovakian firm over actions it said helped another Russian company avoid penalties over cyber-related activities.

The United States also announced sanctions on Russian shipping over violations of U.N. restrictions on North Korea.

Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told Foreign Relations that concern about sanctions has cost Russia $8 to $10 billion in arms deals. Mitchell also said foreign direct investment in Russia has fallen by 80 percent since 2013, “which is a pretty stunning number.”

“I think this administration has been clear that we are prepared to take additional steps,” Mitchell said. “There is an escalatory ladder to sanctions. We are aware of what additional steps would be needed to make an even bigger point.”

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump said he would only consider lifting sanctions against Russia if it were to do something positive for the United States, for instance in Syria or in Ukraine.

Venezuelans Flood into Ecuador, Defying Passport Rules

More than 200 Venezuelans crossed the border illegally into Ecuador on Tuesday, fleeing a deepening economic and political crisis at home in a desperate race to get to Peru before new entry restrictions kick in Saturday.

This year 423,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Rumichaca border near the southwestern Colombian town of Ipiales. Alarmed, Ecuador last Saturday put in place rules requiring Venezuelans to show passports, rather than just national identity cards. Peru will do the same this Saturday.

Hundreds of migrants who had begun traveling days ago by bus and on foot through Colombia from Venezuela before the policy change crossed the Rumichaca checkpoint Tuesday. More than a dozen Ecuadorean police watched them, but did nothing to stop them.

“We only want Ecuador to support us to keep moving forward to Peru where we can work,” said Yorian Alcides Gamez, as fellow migrants sang the national anthem.

They plan to walk and hitchhike 840 kilometers (522 miles) in freezing conditions to the crossing at Huaquilla in Peru.

“We’re walking to Peru, we’re on our way. You wouldn’t believe the number of people,” 23-year-old tourism student Antony Vinales said.

Like Gamez and Vinales, hundreds of migrants had planned to cross legally with their Venezuelan national ID card to find work in Ecuador, Peru or Chile.

Sleeping in tents and on streets, tension is mounting as conditions worsen, with migrants complaining of the cold and that the little money they have for food is running out. Arguments have started to break out as they vent anger at Ecuador.

“We’re really very disappointed, we feel alone, desperate, we never thought that the government of Ecuador would do that to us, when in my country they were so well-received in their time of need,” said Deisy Santana, a 48-year-old construction engineer. “Some people have been traveling by foot 30 days and their feet are destroyed.”

Ecuador’s foreign and interior ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Venezuela’s economy has been in steep decline and there are periodic waves of protests against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro argues that he is the victim of a Washington-led “economic war” designed to sabotage his administration through sanctions and price-gouging.

The chaos has forced many to flood across the borders in search of work, food and basic health care. Latin American governments initially welcomed them, mindful of Venezuela’s role in taking in those fleeing dictatorships and conflict in the past.

But the ballooning exodus this year has stretched social services, created more competition for low-skilled jobs and stoked fears of increased crime. In Brazil, angry residents of a border town ran riot and drove out migrants on Saturday after a restaurant owner was stabbed and beaten.

Venezuelans Flood into Ecuador, Defying Passport Rules

More than 200 Venezuelans crossed the border illegally into Ecuador on Tuesday, fleeing a deepening economic and political crisis at home in a desperate race to get to Peru before new entry restrictions kick in Saturday.

This year 423,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Rumichaca border near the southwestern Colombian town of Ipiales. Alarmed, Ecuador last Saturday put in place rules requiring Venezuelans to show passports, rather than just national identity cards. Peru will do the same this Saturday.

Hundreds of migrants who had begun traveling days ago by bus and on foot through Colombia from Venezuela before the policy change crossed the Rumichaca checkpoint Tuesday. More than a dozen Ecuadorean police watched them, but did nothing to stop them.

“We only want Ecuador to support us to keep moving forward to Peru where we can work,” said Yorian Alcides Gamez, as fellow migrants sang the national anthem.

They plan to walk and hitchhike 840 kilometers (522 miles) in freezing conditions to the crossing at Huaquilla in Peru.

“We’re walking to Peru, we’re on our way. You wouldn’t believe the number of people,” 23-year-old tourism student Antony Vinales said.

Like Gamez and Vinales, hundreds of migrants had planned to cross legally with their Venezuelan national ID card to find work in Ecuador, Peru or Chile.

Sleeping in tents and on streets, tension is mounting as conditions worsen, with migrants complaining of the cold and that the little money they have for food is running out. Arguments have started to break out as they vent anger at Ecuador.

“We’re really very disappointed, we feel alone, desperate, we never thought that the government of Ecuador would do that to us, when in my country they were so well-received in their time of need,” said Deisy Santana, a 48-year-old construction engineer. “Some people have been traveling by foot 30 days and their feet are destroyed.”

Ecuador’s foreign and interior ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Venezuela’s economy has been in steep decline and there are periodic waves of protests against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro argues that he is the victim of a Washington-led “economic war” designed to sabotage his administration through sanctions and price-gouging.

The chaos has forced many to flood across the borders in search of work, food and basic health care. Latin American governments initially welcomed them, mindful of Venezuela’s role in taking in those fleeing dictatorships and conflict in the past.

But the ballooning exodus this year has stretched social services, created more competition for low-skilled jobs and stoked fears of increased crime. In Brazil, angry residents of a border town ran riot and drove out migrants on Saturday after a restaurant owner was stabbed and beaten.

President: Serbia May Reintroduce Compulsory Military Service

Serbia might reintroduce compulsory military service, nine years after abolishing it, to help improve the combat readiness of its army in the Balkans, where tensions occasionally flare, President Aleksandar Vucic said Tuesday.

The armed forces of Serbia, which emerged as an independent state after the bloody collapse of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, were fully professionalized in 2011, but remain poorly paid and equipped.

Serbia, which is a candidate for European Union membership, has retained voluntary service and reserve units.

Vucic said Belgrade was considering reintroducing compulsory military service of between three and six months after 2020.

“We are still thinking about that. … It depends on the finances,” he told reporters at the air force base of Batajnica, just outside Belgrade.

Young people who served would have an advantage when seeking jobs in the public sector, Vucic added, without elaborating.

Serbian politicians have repeatedly floated the idea of reintroducing conscription. But many military experts say it would be too costly and that such a short period of service would contribute little to the country’s defense capabilities.

Under its 2018 budget, Serbia allocated $703 million, or 1.39 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for its 40,000-strong military, up from $693.8 million in 2017.

In recent years Serbia has sought to improve its defense capabilities through a donation of six MiG-29 fighters by Russia, with which it has strong historic and cultural ties, and through the purchase of 10 helicopters manufactured by Airbus.

Vucic and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin have frequently spoken of procuring surplus tanks, attack helicopters and armored personnel carriers from Russia and more jet fighters from Belarus, but such deals have yet to materialize.

Serbia, which maintains military neutrality, joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 2006 and in 2015 it signed the Individual Partnership Action Plan — the highest level of cooperation for countries not aspiring to join the alliance.

Although it strives for a balance between Moscow and the West, Serbia in 2017 took part in more than 100 joint activities with NATO or its member states, including 13 training drills, seven bilateral activities with the United States and only two with Russia.