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ISW: Russia exploits ties with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska to sow Balkan turmoil

The Kremlin continues exploiting its relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska to spread propaganda, promote secession, and destabilize the Balkans region, the ISW says.
isw russia exploits ties bosnia herzegovina's republika srpska sow balkan turmoil sign outside bornia capital sarajevo moserb/wikimedia
Sign of the Republika Srpska outside Bornia and Herzegovina’s capital of Sarajevo. Photo: MoserB/Wikimedia Commons.
ISW: Russia exploits ties with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska to sow Balkan turmoil

The Kremlin and its affiliates continue efforts to leverage Russia’s ties with Republika Srpska, the Serbian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to destabilize the Balkans, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says.

At the opening of the Russian embassy in Banja Luka on 11 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that relations between Russia and Republika Srpska are stronger than ever and announced the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) focus on building religious and cultural institutions in Banja Luka to fortify the “ties of brotherhood” between the peoples of Russia and Republika Srpska.

In an interview with a Republika Srpska TV channel on 16 June, a prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Russia supports Republika Srpska’s independence and highlighted the opening of the Russian embassy in Banja Luka as a demonstration of the friendship and cooperation between the two. Additionally, the milblogger mentioned plans to potentially open a Russian cultural center, Russkii Dom, in Republika Srpska.

Moldovan and Ukrainian officials have previously cautioned that Russian officials utilize the Russkii Dom (Russian House) to disseminate Russian propaganda and carry out “subversive work” abroad.

In April 2024, the same milblogger’s channel claimed that it had opened a “media school” in the Balkans, where the channel’s team spent a week in Serbia and Republika Srpska delivering lectures on operating Telegram channels and combating “misinformation.”

On 7 June, Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik announced plans for a referendum on the entity’s independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina, although the date remains unspecified.

The Kremlin has previously leveraged its relationship with Republika Srpska to further influence the Balkans, sow divisions in the West, and undermine the Dayton Accords to throw the Balkans into turmoil,” the ISW says.

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