Reliable Sources Saying Russia’s Next Move Might Be Bosnia And Herzegovina
After many years of violence, peace has finally returned to the Balkans – and has lasted more than a decade. Many of the Western Balkan nations have resuscitated their drive to join the European Union (EU). Russia is desperately working hard to keep the region neutral, i.e. outside the EU-NATO stronghold.
A reliable source made it known on one of the publications of Foreign Affairs that Russia’s next target in the Balkan is Bosnia and Herzegovina because of its role as the region’s strategic center. Russia’s increasing relationship with president of the Bosnia’s Serb-dominated region, Republika Srpska is linked to Bosnia’s neutrality to NATO membership.
The objective of Russia is a simple one: Bosnia must remain out of the EU and NATO. This they hope to achieve by making sure that the country remains fragmented ethnically. There has also been a growing link between the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Covic and Moscow. It is not surprising that Bosnia and Herzegovina have been accused by Croatia of snooping on Croat politicians and successful Business people.
The recent developments in the Macedonia have also shaped Russia’s intention for the region. The end of two years of crisis saw Macedonia form a new government in the middle of the year (June). The reformist government was committed to fast-tracking the stalled NATO and the EU integration. In the same month, NATO announced Montenegro as its newest member after an accession process that ran for close to a decade.
Russia is well aware that if nothing is done fast, it is only a matter of time before Bosnia and Herzegovina follow. Russia exerts its influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina through Dragan Covic and Milorad Dodik opines Jasmin Mujanovic in his recent article, “Russia’s Bosnia Gambit”. Mujanovic describes the developments in Macedonia and Montenegro as welcome development to the stability of the region.
“These developments are good news for the overall stability of Western Balkans, and the region is still mired in sectarianism and provincialism.”
Source: European Western Balkans
Russia understands that Covic and Dodik are the two biggest promoters of dysfunction and ethnic fragmentation in Bosnia and Herzegovina which explains why Moscow is pushing for improved alliance with the two parties. Dodik’s frequent visit to Moscow is worrisome and the recent $125 million Yugoslav-era debt repayment that Russia is pursuing gives him the lifeline to draw closer to Moscow. According to Mujanovic,
“Dodik is the Balkan leader who most loudly champions Russian interests, voicing steadfast opposition to NATO, the EU, and especially U.S. influence in the Balkans.”
Source: European Western Balkans
The significant action that can turn the tides of Russian influence in the Balkan is linked to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s parliamentary elections come 2018. Although Russia may not easily let Bosnia slip off its fingers, Mujanovic is of the opinion that,
“If in 2018 there is a similar relative victory of the opposition, as in 2010 or even 2014 (when Mladen Ivanic’s victory over Zeljko Cvijanovic created the opportunity to open the European path of Bosnia and Herzegovina) then Bosnia, like Macedonia, will quickly renew its candidacy for joining NATO, a lighter and more important project than joining the EU.”
Source: Foreign Affairs