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Russia. The Kremlin is heading towards the Balkans. Former NATO commander warns

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James Stavridisa retired United States Navy admiral and former NATO commander, assessed in Bloomberg that if Vladimir Putin will win in Ukraine, “it is logical that he will turn his attention to Moldova.”

“But there is another very attractive destination nearby – the Western Balkans,” Stavridis noted. The former general estimated that there are four “stable NATO members” in the region, including Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Russia and the Balkans. Former NATO commander warns

“That's why the Kremlin is looking in a different direction – at Serbia, Kosovo and ethnically divided Bosnia and Herzegovinaę. James Stavridis recalled that after the collapse of Yugoslavia and the bloody Balkan wars, religious tension did not disappear.

Putin wants to exploit this unfinished story. He knows that if NATO member states are dragged back into policing the troubled Balkans, they will be distracted from focusing on supporting Ukraine,” the former NATO commander said.

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He estimates that Vladimir Putin “clearly encourages Serbia to put pressure on the NATO-backed Kosovo government,” but also “is working to destabilize the shaky government of Bosnia and Herzegovina” – a state divided into a three-person presidency with one representative from each of the three main ethno-religious districts.

“The most experienced actor is Dodik,” he writes, pointing Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russian president of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was the one who told the former NATO commander Fr. 10 years ago the need to secede Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina“which would then merge with Serbia to form the large Serbian state which Putin will be happy to support it.

Russia. “The West has options.” The admiral divided the NATO countries

“Fortunately, the West has options. For now, the idea of ​​deploying NATO units in Ukraine is unlikely. Thus increasing the number of troops currently deployed in Kosovo and getting ahead of the unrest that Putin is trying to stoke, is possible and makes strategic sense” – judges.

According to the general, NATO members from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe could lead the effort in Ukraine, and “larger countries in the West” such as Germany, France, the USA and Great Britain “they have sufficient resources to engage in both.”

He estimates that Putin's next weapons are disinformation and hybrid war. The general points out that NATO countries must not forget that pro-Russian propaganda is used outside Russia to create tensions.

“If the Russians decide to up the ante, they could use cyberattacks on power grids and other important targets in Kosovo and parts of Bosnia. This would cause confusion and increase public discontent. NATO Can Provide Better Cyber ​​Defense Systems to Balkan Allies and Friends – he points out.

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