Deutsche Welle (DW) published an analysis on whether there could be an “explosion” in the Balkans, specifically in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), in 2023, and whether this represents an attempt to sow fear and divert attention from the war in Ukraine.
The analysis states that already in the first days of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the question was raised whether the Balkan countries, including BiH, were next in line for the Ukrainian scenario.
Predictions for 2023
In this analysis, it is remembered how the Russian state agency RIA Novosti estimated in its predictions for 2023 that there could be an explosion in the Balkans and that the European Union (EU) could be in an “excited state throughout the year” because the bloc decided to expand to the east. at the expense of the Russian country”, as well as that the EU considers that what is happening in Ukraine is “its matter, not Russia’s”.
Threatening predictions are reinforced by the statements of the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Aleksandar Bocan Harachenko, that the fact that BiH gotcandidate status for EU membership “is a very dangerous thing and involves the suspension of relations and cooperation between the Republika Srpska (RS)and the Russian Federation”.
DW also reminds that recently the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the BiH Parliament Nebojsa Radmanovic(SNSD) stated that “there should be more Russian influence in BiH”, regretting that “in the existing relations of power, this is not easy to do because of the war in Ukraine”.
Radmanovic claims that this is “due to the cultural importance of Russia in the world and the fact that Serbs are emotionally attached to Russians”.
His party president and the new president of the RS entity, Milorad Dodik, was even more direct, who is one of the few officials who visits Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dodik met with Putin last year on the sidelines of the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, but also in Moscow, shortly before the General Elections in BiH.
Analyzes of Russian propaganda intentions in the Balkans
The analyzes of security experts from BiH and Serbia on the “explosion in Kosovo and BiH” are interesting.
Professor Darko Trifunovic, director of the Institute for National and International Security in Belgrade and a military analyst, commenting on the Russian media’s predictions for 2023, says:
“Dozens of ‘analysts’, ‘journalists’, etc., day and night in the broadcasts of the Russian propaganda machine are trying to divide the societies of the Balkan countries, to cause unrest, conflicts, and all this on the reflection of fear broadcast from the Kremlin”.
He also states that “the Russian services have a wide-ranging network in the Balkans in which they have invested and paid people for a long time”, from associates, agents, journalists, alleged non-governmental organizations, web portals, embassies, all the way to cooperation with organized crime.
Trifunovic lists extensively, as he says, the directions of Russia’s action towards Serbia.
”This is the maintenance of the status quo in Kosovo through hidden support for Greater Albanian nationalism and extreme political views, the instigation of inter-ethnic conflicts and incidents, the atmosphere of fear among the Serbian minority in Kosovo, the support of extreme Islamism, the prevention of Serbia’s entry into the EU and NATO, the strengthening of Russia’s influence in various ways etc.,” he stressed.
”Now Russia wants, for the umpteenth time, to try to set fire to the Balkans,”this Belgrade professor told.
Sandi Dizdarevic, a professor of criminal psychology and a security expert, believes that intentionally created fear is part of the propaganda system of the Russian Federation, but that there is no direct influence of Russia in Kosovo and BiH.
Opening of new hotspots
”Russia is in favor of opening new hotspots, such as Kosovo and BiH. The main goal is to shift the attention from Ukraine and Russia to us by opening the Balkan hotspot, because Russia is already in terrible economic, personal, military and other problems,” noted Dizdarevic.
He believes that the opening of the Balkan hotspot would mean bringing Europe into a kind of war.
”This would allow the EU countries to start dealing with refugees, negotiations, humanitarian actions, and that,” Dizdarevic assesses – would “distract attention from Russia”.
He still thinks that there will be no “explosive” scenarios mentioned by the Russian media, but:
”If we know that the Russian services through networks from Serbia had influence and direct involvement in North Macedonia, and then in Montenegro, then it is clear that they will not give up.
Everything takes place through ‘our’ people who agreed to ‘play’ and spread Russian influence,” he says, warning that it is important to “discover Russian actors”.
In this context, it should be recalled that at the end of the year, the German state prosecutor’s office reported that an agent of the German secret service was arrested in Berlin on suspicion of passing information to Russia.
”The entire political situation in BiH favors the creation of unrest, but with the help of the international community, I believe that such scenarios will be prevented. The BiH security system should not be underestimated either,” Dizdarevic explained.
(c) 2022, The Sarajevo Times