Russia’s Hybrid Warfare in the Western Balkans

Russia’s Hybrid Warfare in the Western Balkans

Written on 03/26/2019

“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 democracies, and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe.” – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Podgorica, August 1, 2017

  • Russia sees further processes of NATO and EU enlargement to the Western Balkans as a potential threat, hoping to keep the region away from these Western structures.
  • Russia destabilizes the region by sustaining “frozen conflicts” and escalating tensions, which is nourished by economic policy, propaganda and disinformation tools while using pro-Russian milieus to perform subversive activities.
  • Moscow will thus strive to undermine peaceful agreements reached back in the 1990s through the joint efforts of the West. They all designated border delimitation, outlining both the model of Bosnia and Herzegovina as agreed upon in Dayton and Kosovo’s independence.
  • Russia is now involved in carrying out hybrid warfare against pro-Western authorities in Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo while its support for Bosnia’s Serb separatists poses a threat to state structures. The Kremlin’s undertakings are aimed at drawing Serbia away from Western institutions, however, the Serbs are its only ally in the region.
  • Moscow skilfully profits from their conflicts with neighboring countries, mainly Kosovo, to further provoke already existing hostilities.
  • Russia’s policy in the Western Balkans has suffered a number of defeats over the past three years, among which an attempted Montenegro coup and a Greek-Macedonian name change deal may be distinguished. Montenegro has joined the North Atlantic Alliance while Macedonia is still in NATO’s waiting room.
  • Therefore it is expected that Russia will increase its destructive operations in the region, falling back on the Serb allies and Moscow-backed opposition forces in Montenegro and North Macedonia.


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