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The leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Milorad Dodik, does not hide his close ties with the Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. Moscow is believed to support him in his separatist plans. The latest wake-up call comes from Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. “If Putin finds himself in a corner (in Ukraine), he will look for other places to win. Bosnia could be one of them, “he told US broadcaster CNN, referring to” a very difficult time for Bosnia. “In March, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called Bosnia a possible target for” further Russian intervention “.
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Between 1992 and 1995, around 100,000 people died as a result of inter-ethnic warfare in Bosnia. Since then, the country has been divided into a Croatian-Muslim federation and a Serbian part, the Republika Srpska (RS), where most of the residents feel very close to Russia’s “big brother”, Ukraine.
For centuries, Russia has maintained deep and fraternal relations with the Balkan Serbs, due to the shared Slavic and Orthodox heritage, as well as alliances during the world wars. NATO’s intervention in the Balkans in the 1990s – first in Bosnia and then against Serbia during the Kosovo war – was seen by the Kremlin as a humiliating provocation. Since then, Moscow has tried to increase its influence on Bosnian Serbs.
In statements recalling Putin’s rhetoric on the eve of the attack on Ukraine, the Russian ambassador in Sarajevo warned of Moscow’s “reaction” in the event of Bosnia joining NATO. The Kremlin does not recognize the High Representative of the International Community for Bosnia and Herzegovina, who monitors compliance with the peace agreement, against the “more and more attempts to rewrite the rules of the” agreement “in favor of the EU and NATO and to the detriment of the Bosnian Serbs.
“It is clear that Russia has openly broken with the West over Bosnia,” says Florian Bieber, a Balkan expert at the University of Graz in Austria, quoted by the AFP. He points out that the “passivity” of the West contributed to the country’s instability by allowing Serbian leader Dodik to cross the red lines for many years.
Destabilization in the Balkans
Srecko Latal, Chief Editor of the Regional Investigative Journalism Network (BIRN) shares this assessment. “The Balkans have been destabilized largely due to the absence of the EU,” he says. In his view, this has allowed third parties such as Russia, China and Turkey to fill that void. But recently, the West has begun to pay more attention to this Balkan country once again. that the threat from Russia has really forced the US and the EU to take a slightly more serious approach, “Latal believes.
Washington imposed sanctions on Dodik in January and London did so in April. The EU refrained from using punitive measures but nearly doubled its military presence in Bosnia to around 1,100 men and women. It was a “precaution”, explained the commander, the Austrian general Anton Wessely. The foreign ministry in Berlin is also considering the idea of sending Bundeswehr soldiers back to Bosnia. Recently, it was said in coalition circles that even before the elections scheduled there in October, a contingent of the Bundeswehr could support the EU in the stabilization mission EUFOR Althea.
(AFP / August)