The same recklessness that over the past year had been on display in the Ukraine is now in evidence increasingly in the Balkans.
The collective West’s unsuccessful war against Russia using Ukraine as the stage and Ukrainians as cannon fodder has induced the Transatlantic alliance to desperately seek some semblance of victory, anywhere, in order to disguise the scope and lessen the political repercussions of its failure in the Ukraine.
The solution it has come up with to repair its tarnished hegemonic image is the aggressive campaign to wrap up “unfinished business” in the Balkans. Coming from such quarters, any “attention” to Balkan nations is invariably bad news for the country so favoured. That is the case in this instance as well.
The West judges, perhaps not entirely incorrectly, that Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, its perennial Balkan targets because thus far they have withstood total submission, are currently in a disadvantageous position to continue to resist effectively. With pretensions to embody the “international community,” although it consists mainly of the NATO/EU block of countries, the Alliance is increasingly and now openly shifting to a war footing. That raises to a new level its customary belligerence and disregard for the niceties of international legality and standard diplomatic practice. It never was greatly bothered in the past to observe the norms of civilised interaction between states. But now, with intense pressure to produce some kind of political victory to compensate for the failure in Ukraine, gloves are definitely off.
That puts both Serbia and its sister state, the Republic of Srpska, in a more precarious position than at any other time recently. They are both geographically distant from their natural allies and surrounded by hostile territory politically and militarily controlled by the Western Alliance, which is planning their demise. A comparison with the position of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1941 would not be wide off the mark.
Complementing a similarly unenviable geopolitical predicament, there is an additional unfavourable analogy for Serbia. Its ruling elite are as feeble, vacillating, corruptible, treacherous, and disoriented as was the Royal Yugoslav government in March of 1941. That is when Nazi Germany went for the kill and demanded imperatively that in the looming global conflict Yugoslavia either commit to its side, or face dire consequences. Now it is NATO and EU which are going for the kill and the pretext is Kosovo. The Serbian government a few days ago was handed an ultimatum. The demand was that Serbia give up pretensions of sovereignty over NATO occupied Kosovo and unequivocally align itself with the aggressor alliance in the conflict in Ukraine. It was conveyed by a delegation of Western ambassadors in the form of a brutal warning that dilly dallying about Kosovo must come to an urgent end. Serbia was told that it must unreservedly acquiesce to the robbery of its cultural and religious cradle by signing off on Kosovo’s secession and accepting its illegal fruits. It should be recalled that the occupation of Kosovo was initiated in 1999, when NATO committed unprovoked aggression against Yugoslavia and it was completed in 2008 by a unilateral declaration of “independence” made under NATO auspices.
As is always the case, the West’s actual interest in Kosovo has nothing to do with the publicly stated reasons. Suffice it to say that Kosovo is the site of Camp Bondsteel, the largest military base in Europe, strategically situated so as to be of great use should the Ukrainian conflict degenerate further into an all-out global war.
Judging by official Belgrade’s initial reactions, it is conceivable that the Serbian government may be contemplating a course of action inspired by the collapse of the will experienced by the Royal Yugoslav government in March of 1941, when under Nazi pressure it did as ordered and signed its adherence to the Axis pact. It ought to be remembered by all concerned, however, that the consequences of that infamous breakdown were short lived. Within just a few days, popular revulsion in Serbia forced the ousting of officials responsible for the shameful betrayal of public trust. The immoral commitments they had undertaken on the nation’s behalf were effectively annulled. If further analogies need to be made with the situation in 1941, it should be pointed out that the reputation of the protagonists of cowardice and treachery displayed then lives in infamy to the present day.
Whether such considerations will be sufficient to deter those currently responsible for Serbia’s official decisions remains to be seen.
Alongside Serbia, the neighbouring Republic of Srpska, an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina populated mostly by Serbs, which recently experienced a turbulent election followed by an attempt to achieve regime change using instruments from the color revolution handbook, is also targeted for harsh treatment by the unforgiving Western democracies. Like Serbia’s, its population is solidly on the “wrong side of history” in general and in the Ukrainian conflict in particular, with all that implies. With a similar degree of unanimity, the population and the government are also opposed to having anything to do with NATO. Under the terms of the Dayton agreement signed in 1995, by which the prerogatives of Bosnia’s entities are governed, that effectively blocks Bosnia’s entry into NATO and participation in its activities.
Understandably, this blockade of what is euphemistically called Bosnia’s “Euro Atlanticist integrations,” is an insufferable affront and irritant. As a result, punitive measures against the uncooperative leadership of the Republic of Srpska are now being contemplated. It is a sure bet that if Serbia caves and in cowboy fashion the Kosovo issue is resolved, Bosnia’s defiant Serbian entity will soon be next. It will again find itself actively targeted and in the outraged “international community” cross hairs.
It is, of course, still premature to call the outcome of the ominous new chapter being prepared in the Kosovo crisis, but a perfect storm with turbulent effects appears to be approaching. The same recklessness that over the past year had been on display in the Ukraine is now in evidence increasingly in the Balkans. Andrey Martyanov’s repeated assessment of Western elites as arrogant, ignorant, and incompetent, which he illustrates with a steady stream of examples from the Ukrainian theatre, may soon find another resounding confirmation in the Balkans, to the immense misfortune of all its inhabitants.