War is coming back to the Balkans, but why do the West blame Russia?

Russian President Vladimir Putin reviews a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Putin arrived on a one-day official visit to Serbia during which he will attend a military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from Nazi occupation. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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BELGRADE, Serbia – The United States signals the likelihood of a military conflict in the Balkans starting this year and accuses Russia of being ready to use ethnic dissent to prevent the absorption of Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Republic by NATO.

In the report by the US National Intelligence on potential threats to global security in 2019, in addition to Venezuela, Ukraine, Mexico, the Middle East and other sensitive global issues, the Western Balkans are also mentioned as a source of potential threat.

“The Western Balkans almost certainly will remain at some risk of low-level violence and possibly open military conflict throughout 2019. Russia will seek to exploit ethnic tensions and high levels of corruption to hinder the ability of countries in this region to move toward the EU and NATO,” the document says.

The Serbian edition Danas made an error of translation and interpretation of the text, calling Russia the “initiator of the conflict”. However, political analyst Aleksandar Pavic stressed that the US report does not mention Russia in this sense and that Danas’ claim is false. However, the expert does not exclude the possibility of a conflict.

“There is a good chance that something similar will happen, since the Americans often present themselves as arsonists and as firefighters at the same time. If they insist and pressure Serbia and the Bosnian-Serbian Republic, pushing them to NATO, compelling Belgrade for all means of signing the agreement on Kosovo, the chances of a conflict will obviously increase,” he commented, adding that much depends on the US and other Western countries that have influence in the region.

In American doctrine, China and Russia are presented as strategic adversaries, being the only forces able to oppose the US on the international stage. The Balkans are no exception, Pavic explained.

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For him, the Serbs are the only thing that spoils NATO’s idyllic scenario in Europe and all forces will be launched to make Serbia and the Bosnian-Serbian Republic join NATO “to create a ‘united front’ against Russia.”

Among possible scenarios for triggering a conflict, the specialist names the radicalization of the situation in Kosovo, attacks or protests provoked from outside to involve the police or the army. The US knows how to do that, he said.

“It is important to remember that if someone pushes the ‘button’ in the Balkans, it will not be in Moscow, but Washington, Brussels, London, Paris and Berlin,” Pavic concluded.

Political scientist Dragomir Andjelkovic underlined that the Balkans are a “barrel of gunpowder that is always burned from the outside.”

“If we talk about wars in the Balkans, they are as a rule part of a biased plan to create fear and chaos in the region and then use them to exert pressure on a non-reconciling opponent or for blackmail. I would not say they have a high probability,” insisted the expert.

According to Andjelkovic’s assessment, the US goal is to unite all Western power centers and their mobilization against Russia. “They speak of Russia as a factor that can become a source of problems in the Balkans, but we know very well that these same problems in the Balkans have always been encouraged not by Russia, but by the neo-liberal western centers,” the Serbian analyst concluded.

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