“Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic looked giddy as he bounded across an airfield to accept a newly arrived gift from the Kremlin: Soviet-era fighter jets, castoffs by Russian standards but a treasure for a Balkan ally with few planes of its own.

‘I almost cried when I saw them and heard them,’ Vucic said in August.

Never mind that the gift of a half-dozen MiG-29 jets came with a steep price tag for required repairs: $209 million, payable to Russia. The Serbian president heaped praise on Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

The gift of the jets encapsulates Russian strategy in Serbia — and much of the world. The Kremlin has built a methodical but low-cost influence campaign that is reaping rocketing returns.” (Washington Post)