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Russian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina: How Russia’s support for anti-NATO forces could re-shape the country and the region



This paper explores the influence of the Russian Federation in the Western Balkans. Authors argue that the Russian approach to international politics is a mix of realpolitik and (Neo) Eurasianism. Furthermore, they discuss to what extent (Neo) Eurasianism is accepted in the Western Balkans, particularly in Serbia and bosnian-herzegovinian entity Republika Srpska. The paper elaborates how Russia is investing in destabilization of the region, and offers recommendations for countering and mitigating its influence in the Western Balkans.
Democracy and Security
in Southeastern Europe
This paper explores the inuence of the
Russian Federation in the Western Balkans.
Authors argue that the Russian approach to
international politics is a mix of realpolitik and
(Neo) Eurasianism. Furthermore, they discuss
to what extent (Neo) Eurasianism is accepted
in the Western Balkans, particularly in Serbia
and bosnian-herzegovinian entity Republika
Srpska. The paper elaborates how Russia is
investing in destabilization of the region, and
offers recommendations for countering and
mitigating its inuence in the Western Balkans.
Over the past several years, Russia
has not only intervened in West-
ern elections – as has been wide-
ly publicized – but it has used
increasingly aggressive tactics
to exert an ever-growing egregious influence
in the Western Balkans. For example, Russia
has actively worked to prevent the Euro-At-
lantic integration of countries in the region
by supporting anti-Western factions in Serbia
and encouraging the secession of the Repub-
lika Srpska (RS) from Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH). These belligerent interventions – in-
cluding attempts to facilitate coups in both
Russian inuence in Bosnia and
Herzegovina: How Russia’s support
for anti-NATO forces could
re-shape the country and the region
Original Research Article
Edina Bećirević
Faculty of Criminology, Criminal Justice and
Security Studies, University of Sarajevo
Sead Turčalo
Faculty of Political Sciences,
University of Sarajevo
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Macedonia1 and Montenegro have gone
largely ignored or unnoticed by the West, but
will have profound implications on the future
of the region.
Even so, after years of successful Rus-
sian attempts to destabilize Macedonia and
prevent it from joining NATO, the country’s
Euro-Atlantic future was unlocked when an
agreement was finally reached with Greece
to change its name to North Macedonia; as
many Western analysts have noted, this was
“another blow for Russia” in its efforts to
maintain a sphere of influence in the Balkans.2
In Montenegro, the failed coup by the Demo-
cratic Front the alliance of parties support-
ed by Russia and opposed to NATO accession
was followed by the country joining NATO
in 2017, but that has not stopped Russia from
supporting anti-NATO and anti-EU actors in
the country. In fact, the European Commis-
sion’s 2019 enlargement report on Montene-
gro noted that “the political scene remains
fragmented, polarized and marked by a lack
of genuine political dialogue” that is due in
part to an ongoing parliamentary boycott by
Russian-supported opposition figures.3 The
situation in Montenegro has additionally
deteriorated in 2020, with unprecedented
massive protests throughout the country
organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church,
who has historically been very open in its
support of the pro-Serbian opposition. The
protests began as a response to the Law on
Religious Freedoms, which Church officials
say is “designed to strip the Church over its
property”, despite many independent analy-
sists as well as European experts determining
that the law meets the European standard.4
The Serbian and Russian governments are
not even hiding anymore that they support
the homogenization and religious radicaliza-
tion of Montenegrin Serbs.5
The first few months of 2020 in the West-
ern Balkans have also been marked by crises
sparked by the Constitutional Court of Bosnia
and Herzegovina which ruled that the state,
not its entities, own public land. Milorad
Dodik, member of the BiH Presidency and
a longtime leader of the the Bosnian Serbs,
used this ruling to yet again undermine the
sovereignty of the BiH state, by announcing
the withdrawal of RS officials in the deci-
sion-making process at the state level. Serbian
and Russian governments have very openly
supported the “Serbian cause” in both Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Montenegro. This re-
gional crisis is even more worrying due to the
obvious Serbian turn toward Russia which
dramatically manifested in February 2020,
when Serbia received advanced Russian an-
ti-aircraft missile systems despite the threath
of U.S. sanctions.6
Analysts from the region have previously
clamed that Putin does not fully trust Serbian
President Aleksandar Vučić to be a reliable
partner due to Vučić’s cultivation of links
with the West. However, recent events have
shown otherwise, since Vić has been in-
creasingly turning toward Russia and away
from Europe. However, one regional ally Rus-
sia has always been able to rely on is Milorad
Dodik, the Bosnian Serb member of the Presi-
dency of BiH. Their relationship and trust has
grown as Russia has increasingly began filling
the space left in BiH by departing US forces
in 2006. Moscow’s experience in instigating
and maintaining frozen conflicts in post-So-
viet states has informed its actions in BiH and
their neighbours, where it has successfully
gained control of energy resources in both the
RS and Serbia. Now, with full control of both
oil sectors and the in-progress TurkStream
Pipeline, which will carry Russian natural
gas,7 Russia will have a monopoly on energy
supplies in the region. The aim of this article
is to examine some of the consistent features
of the Russian influence in Bosnia and Herze-
govina and to examine for the reasons behind
its support for secessionists forces. This will
be done by looking at the bigger picture,
Russian wider geopolitical aims, and their
ambitions in the Western Balkans.
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The bigger picture: Russian
geopolitical aims in its
perceived “neighborhood”
In an interview for Socium in 1992,
Vladimir Putin argued that “Russia’s future
was to be found in the building of a ‘Eurasian
power’ and in the choice of good allies”8, re-
ferring to western countries as “Machiavelli-
an exploiters”9. In mixing (Neo) Eurasianism
and realism in his approach to international
politics, Putin according to Alexander
Dugin – intends to build a Eurasian empire.10
The geopolitical ideations of influential
“neo-Eurasians” such as Alexander Dugin
intends to instrumentalize the Balkans – and
especially the states that emerged from the
dissolution of Yugoslavia – as key to strength-
ening and consolidating Russian power, and
as a space that can be transformed into a
Russian “Far Abroad. Other scholars have
referred to Dugin’s neo-Eurasianism as “not
a continuation or extrapolation, but rather
a distortion” of classical Eurasianism; while
both are “radically anti-Western,” neo-Eur-
asianism is “a peculiarly post-Soviet and es-
sentially European ‘new right’ ideology of its
own… the result of a compilation of various
non-Russian anti-liberal theories and their
purposeful ‘Russification’… so as to construct
a link to a reputed Russian native tradition.11
Dugin’s ties to far-right groups in Western
Europe extend back to the late 1980s, when
he developed contacts that he later used “to
consolidate and strengthen his position in
Russian ultranationalist and mainstream
circles.12 These relationships exposed him
to foundational concepts that underpin the
neo-Eurasianism he promotes today, includ-
ing the notion of some form of a “Euro-Soviet
Empire [now, a Eurasian Union]… that would
liberate Europe from US influences.13
The size of Dugin’s imagined Union may
be beyond the aspirations of most Russian
leaders, but the idea that the Western Bal-
kans could be part of an integrated Eurasia is
supported even by more mainstream Russian
intellectuals; an example is Igor Panarin – a
professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who
advocates for a Eurasian Union with four
capitals, including one in Belgrade.14 This
neo-Eurasian concept also has supporters in
Serbia and in the RS, where Dodik is its most
prominent proponent. Some experts have
noted that Dodik’s willingness to act as an
agent of neo-Eurasian and anti-Western ob-
jectives means that “by backing Dodik, Putin
is able to create substantial problems for the
West without needing to invest resources or
diplomatic energy.15
This approach reflects Russia’s experi-
ence in instigating and maintaining frozen
conflicts in the post-Soviet space. In BiH, so
long as the Dayton constitutional structure
persists, secessionist discourse will continue
to be the state’s biggest threat to survival, and
engender an ideal opportunity for Moscow to
apply its influence through proxies in Serbia
and the RS. In this way, Russia has strongly
supported the maintenance of the status
quo in BiH, asserting its defense of ‘Dayton’
through the Peace Implementation Council,
where it has consistently opposed practical
actions meant to kickstart reform efforts
that may be the only safeguard for Bosnian
sovereignty. At the same time, Bosnian Serb
political and intellectual elites have internal-
ly promoted Russia as an alternate source of
development.16 Their espousal of this substi-
tute pathway has so far proven devastating to
Euro-Atlantic integration efforts in BiH, and
Russia’s encouragement of rhetoric advo-
cating secession has made talk of independ-
ence referenda a staple of political speeches
among politicians from the SNSD. Moreover,
the crisis created by Russia in Ukraine has
triggered an escalation of secessionist rheto-
ric in RS and has provided Dodik and others
with a validation for such discourse.
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Just as Dodik has taken cues from the sit-
uation in Ukraine, some analysts say Russia
has taken others from BiH. Indeed, the dys-
functional Dayton model is said to be seen in
Moscow as a template for the future structure
of Ukraine. The way RS, as an overwhelmingly
Serb-populated territory in BiH is a proxy for
Serbian (and Russian) intentions, an official
“Russian entity” in Ukraine would become a
new proxy of Russian interests, separated by
the thinnest of borders. According to Russian
foreign policy experts, including Feodor Luk-
yanov, editor of the Moscow-based Russia in
Global Affairs magazine, the Bosnian model is
“the ideal scenario for Russia” in Ukraine and
has been envisioned to involve “broad au-
tonomy” for Russian-speaking territories in
the eastern part of the country. Importantly,
Lukyanov asserts that Russia has prioritized
controlling these areas because it seeks to
“prevent, in case of emergency or necessity,
Ukrainian political moves toward, for exam-
ple, NATO membership.17
Unfortunately, in order to make this Day-
ton-inspired model more salient, a parallel has
been constructed between BiH and Ukraine
which attempts to reduce countries to [the
experience of] ethno-nationalist conflicts
which arose in the wake of “the collapse…
of two multinational, federal, communist
states,” albeit with some delay in Ukraine.18
The Western Balkans as a whole have been
impaired by as-yet-unhealed fractures along
ethno-national lines that resulted from the
1992-1995 war against BiH, which has turned
the region into something of a prototype for
territories at high risk of absorption into the
Russian sphere. Consequentially, it has be-
come a seductive playground for Putin who
has used BiH to observe, test, and confirm
the effect of tactics that can be applied in
places like Ukraine. However, despite Putin’s
clear articulation of his agenda in Ukraine
six years before the annexation of Crimea
took place for example, by calling Ukraine
an “artificial country” at the 2008 NATO
Summit in Bucharest, when the prospect of
membership for both Ukraine and Georgia
was raised Western diplomats were largely
ignorant or indifferent to his intentions, and
remained so despite Russia invading Georgia
later that year.19 In short, a lack of responsive-
ness and engagement among Western actors
has given Russia a solid foothold in both the
post-Soviet and post-Yugoslav spaces.
It must be emphasized that Russian for-
eign policy is driven largely by imperialist
ideology on one hand, and a “persistent
fear of outside invasion” on the other; this
mentality extends to “some countries within
Southeastern Europe, especially Moldova,
Serbia, and Bulgaria.20 The economist inter-
viewed for this paper described Russian at-
tention for BiH as “leftover” from its focus on
Serbia21; yet it is important to understand that
Russia sees half of BiH – the Republika Srps-
ka – as part of Serbia. Indeed, when Lavrov
visited BiH before the 2018 Bosnian elections
and met not only with Dodik in Banja Luka,
but with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić,
many took this as a clear signal of “Moscow’s
support for future detachment of the Serbian
part of BiH with the aim of joining Serbia.22
Russian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzego-
vina, has even attended highly controversial
events celebrating “Republika Srpska Day” in
Banja Luka; a holiday which marks the day
in 1992 when Bosnian Serbs declared their
own “state” within BiH, though the holiday
is “illegal according to the peace accords”
and involves the Serbian flag being waved en
Moscow’s increasing support for Croat
nationalists in BiH, who envision someday
joining a Greater Croatia or having their own
political entity within the loose confedera-
tion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is also part
of Russia’s strategy to undermine BiH specifi-
cally and obstruct the European project more
generally. Driving this strategy and motivat-
ing Russian proxies in the Western Balkans
is a desire to re-draw international borders.
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Russian propaganda in BiH is now targeting
both Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats “to
provoke ethnic conflict; for instance, a Sput-
nik article was published in October 2017
with the headline, ‘If Bosnia collapses, not
only will the Serbs get a state, but there will
be a chance for Croats as well.’ Another article
published in Sputnik Srbija pushed the nar-
rative that Croats are being deprived of their
rights by Bosniaks and American officials.24
Thus continuous Russian support for a strong
coalition between Milorad Dodik of SNSD and
Dragan Čović of HDZ continues even when
Milorad Dodik refuses to acknowledge the
BiH Constitutional Court ruling on agricul-
tural land, and calls for a boycott of the state
institution. However, international commu-
nity representatives, notably those from The
Quint, reacted by drawing a red line for Dodik
and all those political allies supporting him
in his refusal to accept the authority of the
Constitutional court and to block the state
There is no way to separate this latest crisis
from ongoing Serbian intentions and Croatia’s
nationalist policies which were especially tar-
geted toward Bosnia and Herzegovina during
1990’s. It has become irreversibly obvious
that “redrawing the borders of multiethnic
states along ethnic lines” was the “most de-
structive vision in modern Balkan politics.25
Nevertheless, Serbian, Bosnian Serb, Croat,
and Bosnian Croat political leaders have stub-
bornly held on to this idea for several decades
now; a pattern that is skillfully analyzed in a
recent report by researchers at the European
Stability Initiative (ESI). They emphasized
the parallel continuity in ideological leader-
ship among Serbs and Bosnian Serbs, includ-
ing those of indicted Serbian war criminals
who have returned to Belgrade as heroes of
the radical right, as in the case of Vojislav
Šešelj. They also note that Serbian President
Aleksandar Vučić has had surprising success
“repackaging this old idea [of adjusting bor-
ders] as progressive, non-conventional, out-
of-the-box thinking. Why not, the siren song
goes (again), adjust some borders along eth-
nic lines, as long as the process is negotiated
peacefully and leads to reconciliation?”26
For Serbia, these borders lie at the in-
ter-entity boundary line within BiH, and in
its own southwest, along the line demarcat-
ing Kosovo – where it has long advocated an
ethnically-defined partition as the “realis-
tic” solution to the Kosovo ‘problem’. This
very much echoes the media statements of
some Western analysts, who have described
Vučić’s proposed land swap with Kosovo
as something of a Faustian bargain, but one
which should be encouraged “in the interest
of regional peace.27 The surrender of West-
ern actors to what is perceived as the inevi-
tability of ethnic homogeneity as a precursor
to stability in the Western Balkans has been
underscoring diplomacy in the region since
peace negotiations during the war in BiH; the
conclusion to which involved an agreement
that largely “accepted the situation on the
ground… cementing Serb military gains as
the basis for an internal partition of BiH and
validating, for many Serbs, the legitimacy of
the war’s objectives.28 Furthermore, vari-
ous authors have detailed how Serbia’s 1999
war in Kosovo was motivated by the same
ethnic exclusivity and expansionism that
functionally divided BiH.29 As the ESI report
highlights, Vučić continues to define the
“problem” of Kosovo as one of demography
and the inherent threat of ethnic Albanians to
Serbs. Moreover, members of his government
have accused Kosovar Albanians of “carrying
out a form of silent ethnic cleansing… by
buying property, land, and factories in central
Serbia”, and have explicitly stated their goal
to “stop ‘Greater Albania’ after a century of
Given this kind of existential rhetoric,
Serbia’s concession to independence for its
former province, modified only by “border
adjustments,may sound like a compromise
grounded in pragmatism, and this is why
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Vučić has sold his land swap as “a realist,
pragmatic and progressive way to strength-
en peace.31 But many analysts and political
insiders in the region believe that “proposals
over Kosovo are designed… with the end goal
of retrieving a part of Bosnia in return [in a
swap] – thus achieving Dodik’s ‘final frame’”
– referring to Milorad Dodik’s longtime asser-
tion that the ‘final frame’ of secession will in-
volve uniting with Serbia.32 In a meeting with
his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Serbi-
an Foreign Minister Dačić recently raised the
issue of Kosovo and called on Russia to play
a more prominent role in EU-mediated talks,
which have stalled over tariff disputes.33 Lav-
rov has dismissed Pristina’s latest negotiating
platform, which rejects a territory swap, as
“nothing more than an ultimatum” that he
believes was encouraged by Washington, and
he continues to assert that the West only rec-
ognized Kosovo’s independence in 2008 as
an ex post facto justification for NATO’s 1999
bombing of Yugoslavia.34
Lavrov’s claim that Serbia is under pressure
from actors speaking “primarily on the part of
the US” to recognize Kosovo’s independence
does not necessarily mean Belgrade is being
pressured to capitulate unconditionally.35
Blaming hosts Emmanuel Macron and Angela
Merkel for the unsuccessful efforts to restart
talks at the Berlin Summit last April, Kosovo’s
President Hashim Thaçi has consequently
demanded the US once again take a “‘leading
role’ in the process of normalizing relations
with Serbia, because the European Union is
too ‘weak’ and ‘not united’.36 This is a signif-
icant blow to the EU, which “is certainly the
biggest loser from the current stalemate.” Not
only have European efforts to promote eco-
nomic cooperation in the Western Balkans
been stymied by a new Kosovo-Serbia trade
war, but “the allure of EU membership, which
is supposed to be the union’s chief power as-
set, is clearly not as effective as it was in the
past in pulling Belgrade and Pristina to the
negotiating table.37
For Russia, this is a win. The Kosovo
negotiation process has created divisions
within the EU and between Germany and
the US, without much direct influence from
Moscow.38 That US officials now appear open
to the idea of a land swap is especially signif-
icant to Russia, who is more than ready for
Western powers to endorse the principle of
dividing territories along ethnic lines. Dodik,
Putin’s most loyal ally in the Western Balkans,
is also eager to see how the embrace of this
principle might dovetail his own secessionist
and expansionist aims. Indeed, after a year of
intense but unproductive dialogue between
Belgrade and Pristina, some researchers have
speculated whether the goal of certain actors
has not in fact been to reach a deal, but to
“change the parameters of Western Balkan
policy and create more space for Serbian
nationalists to pursue their traditional objec-
tives.39 In most cases, these objectives reflect
and reinforce priorities set in Moscow.
Russia in BiH: Investing in
The complicated constitutional frame-
work and unresolved internal tensions at
play in BiH make the country particularly
susceptible to Russian influences. Pro-Rus-
sian political and intellectual elites in the RS
have served Moscow’s cause by promoting
Russia as an alternative model for develop-
ment and as a major trading partner, blocking
Euro-Atlantic integration for BiH by com-
pletely obstructing reform processes, and
normalizing secessionist rhetoric in their
political speeches. For a time in February
2020 it seemed that Milorad Dodik was ready
to turn toward NATO and unlock the reform
process: the state level government was
convened and a Membership Action Plan for
NATO unlocked. However, those hopes were
short lived. Soon after agreeing to proceed
with the reform process, Dodik used the
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Constitutional Court rulling on agricultural
land to return to its well known terrain of
secessionists attempts. He persistently uses
every crisis to make attempts to strip Bosnia
and Herzegovina of every attributes of state
and transfer them to Republika Srpska. As
Maxim Edwards put it: “Few national leaders
would call their own country an ‘impossible
state.Fewer still would actively advocate for
it to be broken up. Almost none would risk a
decades-old peace accord to do so. And then
there is Bosnia’s Milorad Dodik.40
The legacy of that peace accord has left BiH
with a society that remains fragmented along
ethnic lines which have been etched into the
country’s constitution. The instability it has
generated makes BiH a model for states at
risk of falling under Russian influence, and an
apparent indifference on the part of Western
diplomats has given Russia a foothold that
it has strengthened by instrumentalizing
the secessionist ambitions of Bosnian Serbs.
Aggressive attempts by Russia to bring BiH
under its wing must be met by a serious re-
sponse from Euro-Atlantic actors. Yet so far,
strategies to counter the Russian influence in
the region have been rather weak. As a result,
Russia continues to play a significant role
in inciting political tensions and deepening
a geopolitical crisis in BiH that is arguably
more severe than any other since the end of
the war.
Russia has rarely hidden its support for the
Serb “side” in BiH, and in the post-Dayton
period Moscow has not only directed invest-
ments in BiH toward the RS but has used this
economic relationship to “influence Bosnia’s
political trajectory. In fact, analysts have
noted that some Russian investment deci-
sions “suggest that economic profit is less
important than leverage over the RS” and
that Moscow’s pledge to offer several loans
to prop up the RS budget are meant to “help
keep Dodik in place as a lever inside Bosnia.41
This should not be surprising, as Russia has
long viewed former Yugoslav states as an ex-
tension of the post-Soviet space over which
it aims to re-gain control. They have also
seen Dodik as a valuable tool of these ambi-
tions since at least 2007, when leaked cables
showed that US officials were alarmed that
Dodik had “increased the tempo of his efforts
to roll back reforms and undermine the state
and that “Russia and (then Serbian) Prime
Minister (Vojislav) Kostunica were providing
direct encouragement to Dodik, and engag-
ing in efforts to destabilize the situation.42
Simultaneously, Russia rebuffed a PIC dec-
laration which expressed concern over RS
announcements that they would withdraw
from state reform processes. PIC declaration
also affirmed that an entity, having already
agreed, cannot withdraw from reforms.
The following years saw a cascade of Rus-
sian protestations regarding PIC declarations
on a multitude of issues, ranging from ques-
tions of state property, to the strengthening of
judicial institutions, to support for BiH’s EU
integration, to the Protocol signed between
the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH and the War
Crimes Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of
Serbia regarding exchange of information and
evidence in war crimes cases. In respect to
war crimes and genocide committed in BiH,
Russia has been an ardent, loyal supporter
of the Serb cause. Moscow’s official policy of
denial was on full display in July 2015, when
Russia used its veto power to reject a British
resolution in the UN Security Council con-
demning the Srebrenica genocide, calling it
“confrontational and politically motivated”
and arguing it would “lead to greater regional
tension.” Instead, Russia’s UN Ambassador
proposed a much vaguer resolution address-
ing “the most serious crimes of concern to
the international community.43
This language reflects the 2010 declaration
by Serbia on Srebrenica, recognizing that a
“grave crime” occurred but never mentioning
genocide. There are other parallels between
the semantic approaches of Serbia and Russia
as well; for example, the deployment of the
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term “military neutrality” to mask anti-NATO
and anti-EU positions. In 2016 Putin signed
a declaration alongside leaders of explicitly
anti-NATO parties in BiH, Bulgaria, Mace-
donia, Montenegro, and Serbia, to create a
“militarily neutral territory in the Balkans”.44
Just over a year later, Bosnian Serb politicians
led by Dodik passed a non-binding resolution
at the entity level expressing opposition to
NATO membership for BiH and insisting on
military neutrality.45
The topic of military neutrality was also
the theme of the Alexander Gorchakov
Public Diplomacy Fund’s annual regional
conference, which had been established by
the Russian government with the aim of de-
veloping a “public, political and business cli-
mate” abroad that is “favorable for Russia”46,
and was organized in Sarajevo in April 2018.
The conference, held behind closed doors,
included professors, students, and security
experts from BiH, Macedonia, Montenegro,
and Serbia, who have anti-NATO sympathies
and are open to the idea of official “military
neutrality.” The Gorchakov Fund has been
identified by Chatham House researchers as
part of “a growing tide of conservative and
nationalist movements,from which “many
youth and religious groups emerged, at the
Kremlin’s instigation, to build majority sup-
port for Putin and to foster support for his
anti-Western narrative. This tide has spilled
over Russia’s borders into neighbouring
states, where sympathetic groups are focus-
ing on the next generation.47 Russian Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov is among the Fund’s
board members, alongside several Russian
business moguls, enabling them to deter-
mine the organization’s funding priorities
which finances “around 25 projects annually,
mostly focused on youth, leadership and
history” and also “sponsors numerous youth
platforms that promote Slavic integration.48
In this way, as Russia continues to support
the objectives of secessionists in the RS, it
also looks to engage with a wider audience of
individuals who may be sympathetic to its ef-
forts to undermine Bosnian state sovereignty.
Indeed, this tactical shift toward the creation
of a broad anti-Western alliance helps explain
the political pact made between Dodik and
Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Čović after the
2018 election, which former High Repre-
sentative Christian Schwarz-Schilling called
“the end of Bosnia.” Čović is a hardliner from
HDZ BiH the sister party of the ruling HDZ
in Croatia – and supports the creation of a
Croat entity in BiH. According to Schilling,
“an increasingly persistent narrative about
decentralisation, or federalisation” by Dodik
and Čović “means nothing other than a path
toward a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croa-
Experts have argued that “what [Russia]
wants from its proxies like Mr. Dodik and
increasingly Mr. Covic… is to maintain a
degree of chaos that keeps the European
Union concerned and stretched on multiple
fronts in the Balkans.50 This new (or perhaps
“refreshed”) Russian strategy means that
Moscow is also actively searching for allies in
less obvious circles, particularly among more
moderate members of Bosniak, Bosnian Serb,
and Bosnian Croat parties, and even among
intellectuals with a civic, not ethnic, orienta-
tion. This is surely why Sarajevo was selected
by the Gorchakov Fund for its conference on
military neutrality, as opposed to a location
like Banja Luka. Still, as Russia attempts to
expand and consolidate its sphere of influ-
ence within BiH, it remains firm in its support
of outright secessionism in the RS, where the
Russian Ambassador to BiH last year threw
his weight behind a vote by the RS Assembly
to form an auxiliary (reserve) police force.51
One analyst noted that this is part of a years-
long backdoor attempt by Dodik to pursue a
policy of re-armament in the RS – prohibited
by the Dayton Agreement – and called it a
“crisis of malign political interference, the
politicization of law enforcement, and, above
all, the transformation of the RS police into
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 14 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
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in Southeastern Europe
the Dodik government’s personal praetorian
guard, one with a distinctly paramilitary
Instead of Conclusion: How
to counter and mitigate
Russian inuence in Bosnia
Russian efforts to bring Western Balkans
countries, especially those not yet integrated
into NATO and the EU, under its wing requires
a serious response from Euro-Atlantic states;
in BiH, clear efforts to instrumentalize the RS
must be specifically countered. Yet, a strategy
to effectively push back against Russia in BiH
has not emerged, and this failure by the West
to recognize or respond to Russian interfer-
ence may well be the undoing of decades of
joint efforts to stabilize the entire region. If
the US and EU do not refocus their attention
on BiH and throw their combined weight be-
hind Euro-Atlantic integration efforts as well
as projects that counter Russian investments
and soft power, the Dayton Agreement could
easily be further mechanized to deepen di-
visions in BiH. Furthermore, many analysts
claim that if this comes to pass, the region is
unlikely to escape renewed war.
As noted earlier, Putin views Dodik as one
of his only reliable allies in the immediate
area, having grown wary of the relationship
built between some Serbian leaders and the
West. This extends back nearly a decade,
to comments made in 2010 by then Serbian
President Boris Tadić, who engaged in trilat-
eral talks with the Turkish and Bosnian (Bos-
niak) presidents and publicly congratulated
BiH on its NATO Membership Action Plan
(MAP). This aligned with behind-the-scenes
support by Serbia for NATO integration for
BiH, which pleasantly surprised diplomats in
Brussels. According to international sources
who participated in NATO negotiations at the
time, the Serbian delegation believed that if
BiH achieved integration, membership might
be easier to ‘sell’ to Serbians.
At that same time the domestic anti-NATO
and secessionist rhetoric of Dodik was inten-
sifying, as well as his expression of explicitly
pro-Russian and pan-Slavic sentiments.
Strong pro-NATO voices in his party tried to
convince the international community that
Dodik was only pandering to voters and that
he accepted the reality that BiH must join the
Alliance. Yet, it has become clear over time
that Dodik had never accepted Bosnian NATO
membership and that he sees himself as an
agent of Putin in BiH, going so far as to issue
a public statement that he would discuss
“the West’s anti-Russian agenda in Bosnia”
in a 2018 meeting with the Russian leader.
According to Dodik, Western countries are
spreading the “false idea that a negative Rus-
sian influence exists” in BiH.53
Putin has skillfully capitalized on the false
notion that Bosnian Serbs face an existential
risk in BiH. He and his proxies have been be-
hind a number of displays of strength in the
RS meant to assert Moscow’s support for Bos-
nian Serbs, such as when more than 100 Rus-
sian Cossacks arrived in the RS in the weeks
before the 2014 election, “as a sign of Russian
support” for Dodik.54 Some of these Cossacks
were identified by local media as part of a
paramilitary unit that had been involved in
the annexation of Crimea and concerningly,
some reportedly crossed the border into BiH
“in vehicles owned by Republika Srpska spe-
cial police forces.55 Dodik has also “cultivated
ties to unofficial dark elements of Putin’s re-
gime like the Night Wolves motorcycle gang,
members of which were active in Crimea as
well. The Kremlin provided a USD 41,000
grant to the Night Wolves for a March 2018
“Balkan tour that underlined Russia’s sup-
port for Dodik and his secessionist effort.56
Dodik is linked to various paramilitary
units based in the RS as well, some of which
have conducted training sessions at a “hu-
manitarian response center” established by
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 15 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
Democracy and Security
in Southeastern Europe
Russia in Niš (Serbia), which several Western
countries believe is “serving as an intelli-
gence collection center or military post.
This is one type security assistance Moscow
is providing to the RS, “although it formally
contradicts the spirit of the Dayton Accords,
which prohibit an independent Bosnian Serb
military.57 Some analysts note that Russia
has hardly hidden its true intentions to “di-
vide Bosnia and Herzegovina… by violent
means if necessary,” supply the RS with “the
firepower and sophistication” to fully milita-
rize the entity’s police force, and cooperate
closely with Dodik to do so.58
As such, any attempts by Western allies to
mitigate the Russian influence in BiH must
focus in part on loosening the ties between
Dodik and Putin and weakening Dodik’s in-
fluence among Bosnian Serbs.
To fully appreciate the situation, it is nec-
essary to understand the ties Dodik has with
criminal circles and criminal-business figures
in the RS. According to some of the inter-
viewees and intelligence sources interviewed
for this research, they influence his political
decision making because they can offer him
protection against his opponents or those in-
dividuals who dare to publically express their
pro-Bosnian and Herzegovinian political
views, among other reasons.59 Dodik’s links to
criminal on-goings have raised serious ques-
tions about the murders of some of his most
vocal opponents, especially the “mafia-style
execution” of Bosnian Serb businessman
Slaviša Krunić near his home in Banja Luka
in April 2019. Krunić, who criticized Dodik in
a TV interview for “stoking ethnic tensions”
in BiH and trying to destroy the country, had
owned a private security agency and had his
own bodyguards. Recently before his death,
Krunić publicly stated his pro-Bosnia and
Herzegovina views which implied his disloy-
alty to Dodik. This made the attack on him
even more audacious and has led some to
speculate that it was endorsed by the highest
levels of the RS. 60
Dodik is also driven by the ideological
force of radical Orthodox Christianity, pro-
moted by the Serb Orthodox Church, which
asserts that Serbs are entitled to an ethnically
defined territory carved out of BiH, Croatia,
Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. This
ideology is the pillar of Bosnian Serb ethnic
politics and a bridge to Serbia and Serbs
across the region, which empowers the
idea of a Greater Serbia. Even if Dodik could
reconcile his betrayal of anti-NATO policy
among criminal financial elements in the RS,
he could not reconcile such a position with
the ideological forces that drive him. The
nationalist and secessionist path chosen by
Dodik is too well-worn for him to stray from it
now. Indeed, it is his dedication to the cause
of secession, and eventually joining a Greater
Serbia, that he believes makes him irreplace-
able; it is probably true that his steadfastness
regarding this objective has been a key factor
in solidifying Putin’s seemingly unbreakable
trust in him. For these reasons, it is improb-
able to think that Dodik will sincerely accept
any real movement toward NATO for BiH.
Beyond these key controlling influences,
Dodik is also a politician which implies that
public opinion in the RS matters. While some
previous research has shown that citizens
in the RS expressed more anti-NATO and
anti-EU sentiment than citizens in Serbia
(where, according to the Serb nationalist
narrative, NATO’s greatest sins actually oc-
curred), the latest polling has revealed that
citizens in Republika Srpska are not as op-
posed to NATO as Dodik and other Serbian
ethnic political party representatives would
want them to be. Dominant political elites
in Republika Srpska behave as though the
absolute majority of Serbs are fiercely against
a NATO alliance. In actuality, recent research
conducted by the Faculty of Political Science
in Banja Luka shows that citizens in Repub-
lika Srpska are rather divided on the issue of
NATO integration and that only about 50 per-
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 16 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
Democracy and Security
in Southeastern Europe
cent of research participants were decisively
against NATO.61
For Dodik, instrumentalizing these issues
has been his political bread and butter, help-
ing him maintain power at the entity, and
now state level for 15 years. In October 2018,
he was elected as the Serb member of the tri-
partite Presidency of BiH, for which the chair-
manship rotates among the three members.
Dodik is currently Chairman of the Presiden-
cy. His party (the SNSD) won overwhelmingly
in the RS in 2018 and, with such a dispropor-
tionate mandate, was able to quickly form
an entity-level government. Meanwhile the
process of forming a government in the Fed-
eration of BiH, has been held up for over a
year due to disputes related to compliance
with the Election Law, and Dodik’s attempt to
secure the position of Vice President through
an alliance with HDZ’s leader, Dragan Čović;
and the Council of Ministers at the state level
has been formed only recently, to be blocked
again by the recent Dodik’s ultimatum.62
This stalemate, like most in BiH, is the
result of disagreements over issues that form
the core of Dodik’s nationalist appeal, and
while one might have expected him to tone
down his secessionist rhetoric upon being
seated as the Chairman of the Presidency, it
has instead intensified. He has catered to the
RS, Serbian, and Russian media by defying
Bosnian law and insisting that the entity flag
of the RS be flown at all his meetings - though
he now represents the state-level government
and therefore both entities by law. Dodik con-
viction has resulted in a pledge not to attend
any meeting at which the RS flag is not flown;
a threat backed by his leaving a December
2018 meeting of the Peace Implementation
Council over its absence.63
On the surface, Dodik’s insistence on being
identified with the RS flag in all public spaces
may seem like a relatively minor, even silly,
transgression to highlight, but the power of
this symbolism in BiH cannot be overstated.
Even though Dodik gave up on displaying the
RS flag in the Presidency BiH, this narrative
was reflected in the real life. In March 2019,
for instance, a Serb resident of Prijedor, in the
RS, attacked a Bosniak neighbor for display-
ing the state flag of BiH. In his semi-annual
report on the status of BiH to the UN Security
Council, delivered on 8 May 2019, High Rep-
resentative Valentin Inzko listed this attack
as one of a number of recent incidents driven
by Serb nationalism in the RS.64 Inzko also
noted that “certain officials” in the RS persist
in making “frequent statements denying the
statehood of BiH, while advocating for the se-
cession of the RS and a union with Serbia.65
He cited Dodik’s April 2019 statement to
Serbian newspaper Večernje Novosti that “we
are already separated, it has just not been de-
clared yet,” and his assertion that “the most
stable option would be if Serbs were to unite
in a single prosperous state of Serbia.66
In the same interview, Dodik called BiH
“unsustainable,” said the RS takes its cues
only from Belgrade, asserted that the RS will
declare independence if Kosovo is granted a
seat in the UN, and entertained the possibil-
ity that Bosnian Serbs could withdraw from
the state level government over the failure to
form the Council of Ministers.67 This is music
to Putin’s ears, who “maintains that a con-
flict-averse Europe and United States will not
integrate states where political instability is
persistent.68 In other words, as long as Dodik
continues to sow divisions internally that
create doubt in the minds of Western powers
regarding Bosnia’s capacity to achieve and
sustain political stability, the Bosnian Serb
leader dutifully serves Putin’s goals of under-
mining both Euro-Atlantic strength and the
European project.
Aware of the implications of a continued
state of political paralysis for BiH, Inzko em-
phasized in his semi-annual report that “the
international community is looking for a new
Council of Ministers to be formed as quickly
as possible.69 Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russian
representative at the UN, reacted strongly,
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 17 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
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in Southeastern Europe
characterizing Inzko’s report as an attempt
to “justify preservation of elements of [the]
international protectorate over Bosnia and
Herzegovina” including his own office, and
“above all… to settle his personal scores with
leaders of Bosnian Serbs and Croats.70 Never-
theless US Ambassador Jonathan Cohen reaf-
firmed American support for the Office of the
High Representative and asserted that “calls
for the closure of OHR from some who wish
to see the country less stable, less secure,
and more divided” were motivated by “their
resentment of authorities or institutions that
prevent them from exploiting the country’s
tumultuous political landscape for personal
According to Polyanskiy, Inzko has an
“obsession with European and Trans-Atlan-
tic integration” for BiH that goes beyond his
mandate; on this point he also showed Rus-
sia’s hand, explaining: “Banja Luka… cannot
accept that the border of Bosnia and Herzego-
vina with Serbia, which is militarily neutral,
should turn into another geopolitical divid-
ing line. This fact just cannot be ignored.” He
warned that any efforts by the West to engage
with Sarajevo on the question of NATO mem-
bership in violation of “the Dayton principles
of consensus-based foreign policy might
undermine… work on the reform track and
entail other destructive aftereffects.72
It is bold of Russia to link this somewhat
ominous threat to a potential violation of
the Dayton Agreement by the West. Many
analysts view the worst-case scenario of any
political crisis in BiH to be a renewed conflict;
and should there be such a conflict, quite a
few have expressed fears that Russia’s effort
to arm and militarize the RS police, in contra-
vention of the Dayton Agreement, would be
the factor most likely to result in ‘destructive
aftereffects. Of Russian efforts to militarize
the RS more broadly, including through sup-
port for veterans’ associations and nationalist
paramilitary groups, one analysis cautioned
that “Moscow backs similar fringe nationalist
organizations and far-right personalities else-
where in Europe to fuel political and social
discord in countries with much stronger and
more resilient institutions than those found
in Bosnia.73
Legislatively and structurally, there are
openings within the Bosnian security sec-
tor in its current form that allow Dodik and
others to consolidate power for their own
purposes. Various reforms, including stricter
regulations regarding the equipment that can
be used by police, limits on numbers of police,
and the prohibition of police reserve units at
the entity level, could help mitigate this; for
such measures to work, enforcement is key
and could create controversy as it will involve
detailed inspections of arms stores and the
potential removal of illicit equipment from
security institutions. The plan developed
by the Martens Commission in 2004, which
focused on centralization and rationalization
as a means to de-politicizing police agencies,
should finally be fully realized. Entity secu-
rity apparatuses, including the Ministry of
Interior, intelligence agencies, the Prosecu-
tor’s Office, and the Court of BiH should all
be subject to a vetting or re-vetting process
as well. Despite a vetting of judges and prose-
cutors by the High Judicial and Prosecutorial
Council between 2002 and 2004, the 2016
corruption charges levied against the former
Chief Prosecutor warrant calls for a second
process; one that extends to other security
institutions, to ensure that anyone connected
to corrupt actors, pre-war and wartime intel-
ligence structures, or war criminals do not
hold positions in these institutions.
The degree to which Russia’s influence in
BiH is linked to economic investments is seen
by many analysts to be rather limited, and
some of this investment has even been de-
scribed as symbolic only, especially in the RS.
Indeed, despite statements by Russian gov-
ernment officials in visits to BiH promising
loans and investments to the state, their only
real economic commitment appears to be tied
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 18 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
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in Southeastern Europe
to providing political support to Dodik. In the
soft power market Russia is an industry lead-
er, and through outlets like Sputnik Srbija it is
crafting and disseminating nationalist narra-
tives built atop the notion that Bosnian Serbs,
and now Bosnian Croats, face an existential
threat if they remain in BiH. This not only in-
culcates citizens in the RS with the idea that
Russian support to security apparatuses is
necessary for their safety, but also reinforces
the divisions that keep BiH paralyzed and,
thus out of the EU and NATO. The interna-
tional community must do more to support
independent and investigative journalism in
BiH, which can help expose the Russia’s role
in BiH’s political affairs and ties between Pu-
tin and Dodik to citizens across the country.
Likewise, it must support existing outlets in
breaking into the Serbian- and Russian-satu-
rated RS media market.
American Vice President Pence has made
several very strong statements while abroad
about Russia’s foreign meddling, including a
2017 speech in Montenegro in which he not-
ed that “Russia continues to seek to redraw
international borders by force. And here, in
the Western Balkans, Russia has worked to
destabilize the region, undermine your de-
mocracies, and divide you from each other
and from the rest of Europe.” He called out
Russian actions to disrupt Montenegro’s
elections and assured the audience that “the
United States of America rejects any attempts
to use force, threats, or intimidation in this
region or beyond.74 The recent comments by
UN representative Jonathan Cohen, reaffirm-
ing US support for the mandate of the OHR
reflects this sentiment as well, and it is signif-
icant that Cohen emphasized concerns with
“recent rule of law developments in Republi-
ka Srpska, which are inconsistent with dem-
ocratic norms and a European future.75 At
the same time, some statements by President
Trump over the last two years have raised
questions in the Western Balkans about US
commitment to the region, to NATO, and to
the EU; for example when he implied that US
troops should not be made to defend “tiny”
Montenegro, a NATO member. The possibil-
ity that the US might endorse a land swap to
settle negotiations over Kosovo has especially
generated concern in BiH. This potential deal
has excited Serb secessionists who see it as a
potential path to their end goal, and that pros-
pect has led Dodik to intensify his rhetoric
about the impossibility and unsustainability
of the Bosnian state. That the “pragmatism”
of a land swap in Kosovo is being framed by
regional and international leaders as a matter
of ethnic homogeneity is particularly con-
cerning to analysts and observers, many of
whom feel that the application of this ethnic
lens during the war in BiH led to the intracta-
ble constitutional, political, and social prob-
lems facing the country today. It is vital that
the US and other Western powers recommit
to a coherent and consistent approach to BiH
and the region. Such an approach must not
fall back on the old notion that ethnic sepa-
ration brings peace and must avoid zero-sum
rhetoric, while at the same time emphasizing
the shared values and interests of the US with
the region.
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 19 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
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in Southeastern Europe
1 At the time of the coup attempt, the country was
formally known as the Former Yugoslav Repub-
lic of Macedonia (FYROM), shortened to Mace-
donia; it is now known as North Macedonia
2 Upon resolution of the naming dispute between now-North
Macedonia and Greece, NATO member states signed a
protocol on the accession of North Macedonia. See: NATO,
“NATO Allies sign Accession Protocol for the future Re-
public of North Macedonia,” press release, 6 February 2019,
3 European Commission, Montenegro 2019 Report, N o .
SWD(2019) 217 nal (Strasbourg, 2019). Available
4 See: Nikola Đorđević, «Why religion is causing an almighty
row between Montenegro and Serbia» in Emerging Europe,
February, 26,2020.
5 See more: Andrej Nikolaidis, Intervju: Srce velikosrpskog
nacionalizma je SPC. Radio Sarajevo, 16.2.2020.
6 Dušan Stojanović, «Another European country has bought
Russian anti-aricraft weapons at Putin’s suggestions and over
US warnings.» AP, February 24,2020.
7 Elena Teslova, “Serbia begins building TurkStream
gas conduit stretch,Anadolu, 17 April 2019, https://
8 Michel Eltchaninof, Inside the mind of Vladimir Pu-
tin (Hurst & Company, 2018), 109.
9 Ibid.
10 Alexander Dugin in: Michel Eltchaninof, Inside the mind
of Vladimir Putin (Hurst & Company, 2018), 107.
11 Andreas Umland, “Why Aleksandr Dugin’s ‘Neo-Eur-
asianism’ Is Not Eurasianist,New Eastern Europe, 8
June 2018,
12 Anton Shekhovtsov, Russia and the West-
ern Far Right (Routledge, 2018), 47.
13 Ibid., 46.
14 Dušan Proroković, Geopolitika Srbije (Bel-
grade: Službeni glasnik, 2012), 446.
15 Raphael S. Cohen and Andrew Radin, Russia’s Hostile Meas-
ures in Europe: Understanding the Threat (RAND Corporation,
2019), 95. Available at:
16 Milan Blagojević, “Državno uređenje Bosne i Hercegovine
i integracioni procesi, Argumenti VII, no. 20 (2013): 158.
17 Charles Recknagel, “For Russia, Ideal Scenario In
Ukraine Might Just Be The Bosnian Model,” RFE/
FL, 5 September 2014,
18 Tony Barber, “For Yesterday’s Bosnian Serbs, sub-
stitute today’s pro-Russians in Ukraine,” Finan-
cial Times, 2 May 2014,
19 See: Steven Erlanger, “Russian Aggression Puts NATO
in Spotlight,The New York Times, 18 March 2014, https://
20 Cohen and Radin, Russia’s Hostile Measures
in Europe: Understanding the Threat, 66.
21 Interview with an economist from Repub-
lika Srpska, Banja Luka, May 2019.
22 “Moscow To Prepare Serbian Intrigue,” Russia Monitor
(blog), Warsaw Institute, 25 September 2018, https://
23 Maza, “Exclusive: Another Ukraine? Russia Backs
Separatist Politician’s Military Buildup in Bos-
nia and Herzegovina, Research Shows.
24 David Salvo and Stephanie De Leon, “Russia’s Efforts
to Destabilize Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Alliance for
Securing Democracy (blog), 25 April 2018, https://war-
25 European Stability Initiative, The Hypnotist: Aleksandar Vucic,
John Bolton and the return of the past, 25 April 2019, 1. Avail-
able at:
26 Ibid., 3.
27 Ibid., 4.
28 Nevenka Tromp, Prosecuting Slobodan Milošević:
The unnished trial (Routledge, 2016), 175.
29 Ibid., especially Chapter 6.
30 European Stability Initiative, The Hypnotist: Aleksan-
dar Vucic, John Bolton and the return of the past, 5-6.
31 Ibid.
32 Mersiha Gadzo, “Are ethnic borders being drawn for
a ‘Greater Serbia’?” Al Jazeera, 10 August 2018, https://
33 “Serbia Wants Russia To Play Larger Role In Kosovo Talks,”
RFE/RL, 18 April 2019,
34 “Washington likely culprit behind Kosovo in-
dependence ultimatum, says Lavrov,” TASS, 22
March 2019,
35 “Serbia Wants Russia To Play Larger Role In Kosovo Talks.”
36 “Kosovo’s President Says U.S. Help Needed To Normal-
ize Relations With Serbia,” RFE/RL, 2 May 2019, https://
37 Dimitar Bechev, “The Kosovo quandary is a win
for Russia,Al Jazeera, 18 November 2018, https://
38 European Stability Initiative, The Hypnotist: Aleksan-
dar Vucic, John Bolton and the return of the past, 20.
39 Ibid.
40 See: Maxim Edwards, “The President Who Wants to
Break Up His Own Country,The Atlantic, 2 January 2019.
Available at:
41 Paul Stronski and Annie Himes, “Russia’s Game in
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 20 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
Democracy and Security
in Southeastern Europe
the Balkans,” Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 6 February 2019, https://carnegieendowment.
42 Adam Tanner, “Bosnian Serb leader threat to stability: U.S.
cables,Reuters, 6 April 2011,
43 “Russia vetoes Srebrenica genocide resolution
at UN,The Guardian, 8 July 2015, https://www.
44 “Putin’s Party Signs ‘Military Neutrality’ Agreements with
Balkan Parties,” Balkan Insight, 29 June 2016, https://balka-
45 “Bosnian Serbs pass resolution against NATO member-
ship,Associated Press, 18 October 2017, https://www.
46 See:
47 Orysia Lutsevych, “Agents of the Russian World: Proxy
Groups in the Contested Neighbourhood,” Chatham
House Russian and Eurasia Programme, April 2016, 22.
Available at:
48 Ibid., 23.
49 “Former High Rep: Dodik-Covic alliance is the end of Bos-
nia,N1, 25 November 2018,
50 Barbara Surk, “Bosnia’s Election Exacerbates Old Di-
visions, to Russia’s Satisfaction,The New York Times, 6
October 2018,
51 “Ruski ambasador podržao formiranje rezervnog sastava
policije Republike Srpske,Klix, 22 April 2019, https://www.
52 Jasmin Mujanović, “Serb ‘Auxiliary Force’ Escalates
Threats to Bosnia’s Stability,Just Security (blog), 22 April
53 Mladen Lakic, “Dodik to Warn Putin of West’s An-
ti-Russian Actions,Balkan Insight, 25 May 2018,
54 Ibid.
55 Christo Grozev, “The Kremlin’s Balkan Gambit: Part I,”
Bellingcat, 4 March 2017,
56 Stronski and Himes, “Russia’s Game in the Balkans.”
57 Ibid.
58 Reuf Bajrović, Richard Kraemer, and Emir Suljagić, Bos-
nia on the Chopping Block: The Potential for Violence and
Steps to Prevent it (Foreign Policy Research Institute,
March 2018). Available at:
59 For example, the Mrkonjić-Lauš drug cartel
and Dodik do not share a mutual affection.
60 Dragan Maksimović, «BiH nakon ubojstva Slaviše Krunića».
24.04.2019. DW
61 Edin Subašić, «Koliko je Republika Srpska zaista protiv
NA- TO-a?»,Aljazeera Balkans, 23 November, 2019, http://
62 The Council from the previous mandate has continued to
meet, under a technical mandate, until a new one is formed.
63 “Dodik Leaves Meeting Over Absence of RS Flag, Inz-
ko Says Law is Clear,Balkan Insider, 6 December 2018,
64 See: Valetin Inzko, 55th Report of the High Representative for
Implementation of the Peace Agreement on BiH to the Secre-
tary-General of the United Nations, 8 May 2019. Available at:
65 Ibid.
66 S. J. Matić, “MILORAD DODIK: Srpska je samostalna, ali
još nema papir,” Večernje Novosti, 15 April 2019, http://
na-ali-jos-nema-papir; for an English report on parts
of this interview, see: Srecko Latal, “Serb Leader’s
War Drums Stir New Fears in Bosnia,” Balkan Insight,
16 April 2019,
67 Ibid.
68 Bajrović, Kraemer, and Suljagić, Bosnia on the Chopping
Block: The Potential for Violence and Steps to Prevent it
69 Inzko, 55th Report of the High Representative for Im-
plementation of the Peace Agreement on BiH
70 Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the
United Nations, “Statement by Acting Permanent Repre-
sentative Dmitry Polyanskiy at the Un Security Council
Meeting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
8 May 2019,
71 United States Mission to the United Nations, “Remarks
at a UN Security Council Meeting on Bosnia and Herze-
govina,” 8 May 2019,
72 Ibid.
73 Stronski and Himes, “Russia’s Game in the Balkans.”
74 Stronski and Himes, “Russia’s Game in the Balkans.”
75 United States Mission to the United Nations,
“Remarks at a UN Security Council Meet-
ing on Bosnia and Herzegovina,” 8 May 2019.
Democracy and Security bookblock.indd 21 19.6.2020. 10:59:39
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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  • Dušan Stojanović
  • Another
Dušan Stojanović, «Another European country has bought Russian anti-aricraft weapons at Putin's suggestions and over US warnings.» AP, February 24,2020.
  • Elena Teslova
Elena Teslova, "Serbia begins building TurkStream gas conduit stretch," Anadolu, 17 April 2019, https://
Inside the mind of Vladimir Putin
  • Michel Eltchaninof
Michel Eltchaninof, Inside the mind of Vladimir Putin (Hurst & Company, 2018), 109.
Why Aleksandr Dugin's 'Neo-Eurasianism' Is Not Eurasianist
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Andreas Umland, "Why Aleksandr Dugin's 'Neo-Eurasianism' Is Not Eurasianist," New Eastern Europe, 8
  • Anton Shekhovtsov
Anton Shekhovtsov, Russia and the Western Far Right (Routledge, 2018), 47.
Državno uređenje Bosne i Hercegovine i integracioni procesi
  • Milan Blagojević
Milan Blagojević, "Državno uređenje Bosne i Hercegovine i integracioni procesi," Argumenti VII, no. 20 (2013): 158.
For Russia, Ideal Scenario In Ukraine Might Just Be The Bosnian Model
  • Charles Recknagel
Charles Recknagel, "For Russia, Ideal Scenario In Ukraine Might Just Be The Bosnian Model," RFE/ FL, 5 September 2014, russia-ukraine-bosnia-model/26568354.html
For Yesterday's Bosnian Serbs, substitute today's pro-Russians in Ukraine
  • Tony Barber
Tony Barber, "For Yesterday's Bosnian Serbs, substitute today's pro-Russians in Ukraine," Financial Times, 2 May 2014,