At the end of September this year, a number of new problematic factors emerged in the development process of the situation in the Balkans, which could significantly complicate the situation in the peninsula. First of all, it is another aggravation of relations between Serbia and the Kosovo region due to a series of questionable actions on both sides. For example, on 25 September, Serbian presidents A. Vucich and Kosovo chief H. Tachy issued a joint statement on the possible change of the border (swapping of border areas mainly populated by ethnic Serbs and Albanians) to “achieve a historic peace solution. “
Kosovo opponents of any compromise with Serbia, led by the radical left nationalist party Vetëvendosje, responded immediately to these plans with mass protests in Pristina. In addition, on 29 September, Tachy, accompanied by a unit of the Kosovo special forces, visited the northern districts of the region to find out how the local Serb population perceives the idea of swapping territories. In particular, he visited the sensitive area for Serbia of the Gazivoda mountain basin, which is located on the territory of the self-proclaimed Kosovo and is part of the Serbian water supply system.
At the same time, the Serbian leadership treated this visit negatively. Therefore, Serbian President Vucich described Tachy’s trip with his guards to northern Kosovo as a “group attack by the Kosovo security forces against the Serbian population of the region”, during which they conducted an operation. cleaning the adjacent streets and arresting local citizens, in order to have taken control of the power plant facilities together with the Gazivoda vater reservoir.
Referring to these accusations, the president of Serbia accused Tachy of deliberate provocation and violation of resolution no. 1244 of the UN Security Council, which allows Kosovo security forces to remain in the northern regions of the province only with the permission of NATO and the full consent of the local Serbian community. Therefore, he ordered to increase the combat readiness of the armed forces of Serbia. In turn, on instructions from Belgrade, the Serbian population of the border areas of Kosovo and Serbia held a series of protests, simultaneously blocking transport communications.
In this way, Belgrade created an official background to ask for military support from Russia. This question, among others, was raised by the Serbian side in an urgent meeting between Vucich and Putin on October 2 in Moscow, where, according to an official report, the prospects for the development of Russian-Serbian relations were discussed, as well as topical. international political issues and the particular situation in the Balkans, and in particular in Kosovo. At the same time, V. Putin promised to provide full support to Serbia, including with regard to its security.
Another negative factor in the evolution of the situation in the Balkans is the failure of the referendum of 30 September to change the name of the country. Another negative factor in the development of the situation in the Balkans is the failure of the September 30 referendum to change the name of the country, through which the Macedonian authorities are working to resolve the long-term contradictions with Greece. 39.6% of the population took part in the vote, 91.5% voted in favor of changing the name “Macedonia” to “North Macedonia”. As is known, the referendum was declared invalid, since according to Macedonian law the turnout should be at least 50% …
From a legal point of view, the nature of the referendum was purely advisory. But the fact that it didn’t happen can be considered a serious political confrontation. So, in the framework of the vote, the citizens of Macedonia simply had to confirm the country’s European and Euro-Atlantic choice. But, of course, this didn’t happen. Now the Macedonian parliament has to decide on this issue. At the same time, for this reason, the parliamentary coalition in power does not have sufficient votes. And if the required number of mandates is not reached, the governing coalition will in fact be forced to announce early parliamentary elections, which will necessarily influence the distribution of political forces in the country.
At the same time, some facts are known that indicate Russia’s involvement in the failure of the referendum. Thus, the main apolitical force opposing Macedonia’s accession to NATO as well as its European geopolitical course is an ultras movement, a supporters organization of the Vardar football club, owned by the Russian oligarch S. Samsonenko. It was on their initiative the day before and during the referendum mass youth demonstrations gathered asking Macedonians to vote against the western course of the country. They even called on people to personally support Russia and Putin. The Macedonian Orthodox Church also indirectly opposes the country’s entry into NATO and the EU. It is quite possible that the recent visits of Russian ideologues of the world – in particular A. Dugin – to Macedonia were also scheduled due to the upcoming referendum.
first, to disperse the efforts of the West, to divert their attention from the conflict in Ukraine and the tensions in the Baltic countries by causing conflicts in other regions, including the Balkans. At the same time, by aggravating the situation, Russia could contribute to the outbreak of an armed conflict, which will allow it to deploy its troops in the Balkan peninsula under the pretext of helping Serbia to guarantee its security;
secondly, to force the West to resume cooperation with Russia, also with the help of powerful levers of pressure, on the basis of joint actions to stabilize the situation in Europe and in particular in the Balkans. In this regard, Russia is trying to bet on the criticality of this problem for Europe, since the emergence of a new armed conflict in the Balkans will be a much bigger problem for Europe than the armed confrontation in Syria;
third, to prevent the accession of the Western Balkan countries to NATO and the EU. In particular, in October 2016, Russia, with the assistance of the Serbian government, has already attempted to carry out a military coup in Montenegro, thus blocking its membership of the Alliance. In turn, in the same strategy against Macedonia, Russia uses Greece (as does Hungary against Ukraine).
At the moment, all these issues are of particular importance to the Kremlin, which is explained by the US sanctions measures against Russia. In particular, the United States has taken such steps since April this year under the “On Counteracting America’s Opponents through Sanctions” law. Furthermore, on August 27, the United States introduced a new package of sanctions against Russia in relation to the so-called Skrypal case, promising Moscow to substantially expand them if the Russian side refuses to provide guarantees that it will not use chemical weapons in the future, and it will not give consent to “local inspections” by UN specialists.
Russia has started the implementation of its plan to destabilize the situation in the Balkans with the start of the work of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. On 21 August, Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov on a working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met with regional leaders. Indeed, it was after this that Russia’s supporters in the Balkans began actively taking steps to provoke the aforementioned events on the peninsula.
Russia has started the implementation of its plan to destabilize the situation in the Balkans with the start of the work of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. On 21 August, Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov on a working visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met with regional leaders. It is possible that we will soon see another conflict situation in the Balkans, particularly in Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The last visit of RS President M. Dodik to Russia on 30 September can be considered a precursor of this. President Vladimir Putin hosted the guest in Sochi, where he could discuss a scenario of aggravation of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular by putting the question of the withdrawal of Republika Srpska from BiH and its accession to Serbia on the agenda. By the way, in 2017 M. Dodik already expressed it.
As always, all of Russia’s efforts to provoke tension in some regions are accompanied by a show of strength. Thus, on 1 October the Russian-Serbian air tactical military exercises “BARS-2018” began in the territory of Serbia with the participation of MiG-29 jets and Mi-8 helicopters. The capabilities of intercepting air targets, attacking ground targets and landing airborne troops are being investigated during this year’s executions. By the way, similar exercises “BARS-2016” were held in parallel with the attempt to organize a military coup in Montenegro.
Looking at the situation in the Balkans, we can once again see that Russia has seen the constantly troubled region as a lever of pressure towards the West and continues to invest funds to maintain a special political situation on the peninsula.
by Ivan Sichen ‘, InfoResist,