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News 26 Dec 17

US to Analyse Russia's Links to Balkan States

Amid concerns about expanding Russian influence, the US says it intends to compile a report analysing security cooperation between each Western Balkan country and Russia.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

State Department. Photo: Wikimedia

The US Defense Secretary with the concurrence of the Secretary of State is to submit a report to Congress looking at security cooperation between Moscow and Western Balkan countries.

“The report will include an assessment of security cooperation between each Western Balkan country - Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia - and the Russian Federation,” a report published by Bosnian news website Puls said.

According to the website of Congress on December 12, the assessment will include a list of “Russian weapons systems and other military hardware and technology valued at $1,000,000 or more that have been provided to or purchased by each Western Balkan country since 2012”.

It will also include a description of the participation of each Western Balkan country’s security forces in training or exercises with Russia since 2012 and description of any security cooperation agreements each Western Balkan country has entered into with Russia.

It is added that US will analyse also intelligence cooperation between each Western Balkan country and Russia.

The overall aim is for the US to gain “an assessment of how security cooperation between each Western Balkan country and the Russian Federation affects the security interests of the United States, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western Balkan country, and each NATO member state that borders the Western Balkan country,” the document reads.

The report should include the same assessment of security cooperation between each Western Balkan country and the United States, as well as an assessment of security cooperation between each Western Balkan country and NATO.

Western countries, including the US, are increasingly concerned about a perceived rise in Russian influence in the Balkans and Central Europe.

In November, the Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council called for a permanent American military presence in the Balkans to stabilize southeastern Europe amid what it sees as increased Russian efforts to exert political influence across the region.

Republican Senator John McCain in April, following a tour of the Balkans, complained of an American "vacuum", which he said Russia was eager to fill, and called for more high-level US visits to the region.

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