The U.S. Congress’s report on Putin’s asymmetric assaults on democratic countries of Europe also considers the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
Special attention is devoted to BiH’s efforts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but the Republika Srpska (RS) entity and Milorad Dodik represent the key obstacles.
“To get to that goal, representatives of all three ethnic groups, as well as members of the BiH Presidency, should agree on it and take the necessary reforms. The RS entity, which is an entity within BiH, is predominantly inhabited by Serbs and keep close ties with Moscow. The RS’s opposition to BiH’s efforts to join NATO would disable this attempt, despite the will of the central government in Sarajevo to implement the Municipality Action Plan (MAP). The RS National Assembly in October 2017 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the membership of BiH in this military alliance,” it is stated in the report.
It is added that Russia intensified relations with RS President, Milorad Dodik, which “could be useful in slowing BiH’s NATO path”.
“Although Dodik is not the head of the Bosnian government, Vladimir Putin met with him few times. However, Putin never met with the representatives of the central government in Sarajevo, which is a clear sign with whom Russia wants to have relations in that country. Russia also in 2017 publicly backed the referendum on independence which was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. If BiH made significant progress in NATO, Russia could use the RS to slow down and cancel any progress. Media space in the RS is already preparing for such a scenario, and the media there are full of reporting against NATO and the European Union (EU) using the ‘Sputnik’ content from Belgrade. The Russian influence in Banja Luka, the capital of the RS, is so deep that even on newsstands you can find T-shirts, cups and other items with Vladimir Putin’s photos, “ it was concluded in the report that was published at the official website of the U.S. Congress.