analysis 13 Jan 17

NATO Ignoring Balkan Tensions, Experts Warn

Analysts question NATO’s strategy of focusing on building up forces on its eastern flank - while ignoring growing Russian-inspired tensions in the Balkans.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
 
 The official welcome ceremony for the US troops convoy in Zagan, Poland, Thursday.  First U.S. troops arrived at the Zagan base in western Poland as part of deterrence force of some 1,000 troops to be based here and reassure Poland that is worried about Russia's activity. Photo: Beta/AP/Czarek Sokolowski.

The recent celebrations of “Statehood Day” in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, which threatened to divide Bosnia’s armed forces and triggered a new round of saber-rattling, is a consequence of the weakened role of NATO, the US and EU role in the Balkans, experts say.

With the hardline RS leadership relying on Russian support for its radical initiatives, it is also another sign of strengthened Russian influence in the ethnically divided region.

NATO and other Western officials over the last year have admitted that Russia is increasingly engaged in different Balkan countries, noting the failed attempted coup in Montenegro at the time of its elections last October.

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