BiH Serb leader Dodik fans the fire with Putin meeting

As if Serbian politics could not become more complex, on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin upped the ante in the war in Ukraine, stating that a partial mobilization will take place, as well as referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson, Bosnian Serb firebrand Milorad Dodik met with Putin to back Russia’s war effort and further muddle the message with regard to Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia all in one go.

Dodik has been a long-time Putin fan, and he has continually stirred the pot in Bosnia as a member of the three-headed Bosnian presidency that was created following the war in Yugoslavia. However, he has stated that he will not run again for the same position on Oct. 2, although it should be assumed that his party has Putin’s endorsement.

Yet interestingly, Putin also made sure to emphasize the “strategic partnership” between Serbia and Russia.

This statement does Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic no favors, as Serbia is currently on the outs with the EU with regard to head-bumping over Vucic’s flat refusal to recognize independence for Kosovo, as well as for the debacle of a Europride week that featured multiple protests by far-right protestors supported by the Serbian Orthodox Church, a refusal of local authorities to grant parade organizers a permit to hold the parade and then ugly scenes from the far right when parade organizers held the parade anyway.

For its part, Belgrade has promised to prosecute any and all willing to foment violence re Europride, but the wider issues are far more alarming. While Serbia ostensibly—and Vucic has repeated this often—sees its future in the EU, it is completely dependent on Russian gas and as winter approaches faces the cliff of a Russian gas supply cut off, which is also faced by the European Union. At the same time domestic politics demand that Vucic toe a hard line to support Serbs both in Kosovo and in Bosnia.

And if Kosovo is a potential tinderbox, Bosnia is the crackle of burning leaves in the wind, with Dodik having consistently thrived upon local support by threatening to effectively secede from a “united” Bosnia—with the eventual goal of having Serbian dominated territory in Bosnia annexed by Serbia itself.

Quoted by Russian news services, Dodik attempted to add still more fuel to the fire, stating that the West ignored the targeting of Russians in Ukraine, as well as “murder” in Donbas.”

And if there need be another twist, while Putin—on the even of drawing yet another (and far more dangerous) nuclear line in the sand with proposed referendums in Donetsk, Kherson and Luhansk—has noted his close relationship with Vucic, Vucic has used the Ukrainian argument of fighting to stop Russia from annexing Ukrainian territory as analogous with that of Serbia refusing to allow the departure of Kosovo.

Stay tuned, as not only the Balkans, but all of Europe are on edge.

Photo credit: Medija centar Beograd, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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