UK military specialists will be deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote security and counter Russian influence, British Prime Minister Boris Johnston announced on Thursday.
At the request of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, the UK military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will be sent to train the armed forces in BiH.
“We cannot allow the Western Balkans to become another playground for Putin’s pernicious pursuits,” Johnson said. “By fanning the flames of secessionism and sectarianism Russia seeks to reverse the gains of the last three decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gains that have brought more stability to our whole continent.”
“That is why we are stepping up support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, answering the call from our friends to help protect the peace they so rightfully deserve to enjoy,” Johnson added.
Only days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU decided to almost double the size of its EUFOR force to 1,100 troops from 600 troops by sending in reserves to stave off potential instability.
“To everyone thinking about destabilising Europe and the Western Balkans, my message is clear: Operation [EUFOR] Althea is here to prevent it,” EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said at the time, noting that supporting peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina has become particularly important after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, BiH is facing the threat of disintegration, as Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik recently made clear he has not given up plans to take the Serb half of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Serb Republic, out of the country but is just waiting for the right moment.