NEW RISKS IN THE BALCANS Situation reports
The Russian Federation steps up efforts in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim is to intensify anti-Western sentiments, encourage civil disobedience acts and mass protests against rapprochement and integration into the EU.
Such efforts are made both for creating tension in the center of Europe and stalling the process of Serbia’s integration into the European Union, as well as for passing off the problem of Ukraine.
CESI’s analysts have previously mentioned the overactivity of Russian diplomats and suspects of ties with the Russian intelligence service in Croatia. In particular, we pointed out Moscow’s attempts to preserve and build up military and technical cooperation with Zagreb and prevent arms supplies from the U.S. High level of interest in acquiring a share in Croatian INA Oil and Gas Company was also noted.
In addition to that, the incoming intelligence suggests that Moscow’s Government is trying to establish closer ties with Serbia through military cooperation and gas supplies. According to our estimations, the overactivity of pro-Russian forces is expected within the territory of Serbia in the nearest future, putting pressure on Belgrade’s leadership in order to force them either to distance from the EU membership, or exert pro-Russian impact on the EU decisions as a member-country. Moscow is most likely to consider the scenario of making Serbia give up on the Eurointegration as a priority.
Moreover, analysis of diplomatic activity and contacts of Russian envoys in Bosnia and Herzegovina proves that the Russian Federation seeks to bolster influence on this country and replace some of its top officials. These processes will apparently be realized through Russian resources in Serbia.
Russia has refused to support the extension of the EU peacekeepers mandate in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the first time in 14 years – that is one of the indirect proofs of Russia’s planning actions within the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN Security Council passed the resolution on extending the peacekeeping force term of reference in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a year. But Russia turned out to be the only country out of 15 SC member states that did not uphold this decision, abstaining from voting, though it had voted for extending the peacekeeping mission for the last 14 years. Permanent Russian mission to the UN is lobbying for speedy closing up of the UN High Representative’s executive office and abandonment of external interference in Bosnia’s affairs. Russian mission to the UN was instructed to focus on ensuring the process of forming the new authorities in the country without the external interference, first of all, on the part of the High Representative.
The results of our analysis suggest that nationalist parties’ candidates won the October elections to the governance bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, thus yet again sharpening the contrasts among the ethnic groups living in the country. Consequently, the developments are likely to prove that Kremlin is considering the scenario of radicalizing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and destabilizing the situation in the region. Electing not to support the peacekeeping mission’s mandate speaks for Moscow’s interest in such pace of developments. On one hand, that will suspend the EU integration of the countries in the region. On the other hand, that will aggravate military and political situation on the EU borders. Moreover, that will enable to divert the EU’s attention from Russia’s policy in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.