In the context of a special reportage by George Vlavianos on Russian infiltration, and NATO and EU influence, in the region published on the Inside Story website, Ioannis Armakolas commented on a possible “domino effect” in the Western Balkans following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Regarding concerns about instability in Bosnia-Herzegovina following a possible Russian intervention, having first noted just how precarious the Dayton Agreement is, Ioannis Armakolas noted inter alia that: “Russia might reasonably be expected to seek to open a political-diplomatic front with the EU and the US in the Western Balkans, a region where the West enjoys a privileged role and influence. However, it remains to be seen whether such a development will indeed come to pass. The Republica Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose nationalist Bosnian Serb leader is both popular and enjoys close relations with Moscow, is perhaps the best weak point for such a move […]. We need to stress, however, that the region is secured militarily, since the majority of the countries in the Western Balkans are part of NATO, the local military powers are weak, and Russia is not strong enough to provide substantial support for any military move. Similarly, Russia is unable to financially support any alternative to the European integration plan in the region”.

On Serbia’s ambiguous stance, Armakolas noted that “Serbia will have to choose for itself whether to follow the rest of the Western Balkans along the route to EU accession, or pursue the path of totalitarian regimes”. He added that “Even if President Vucic himself ultimately decides that the country should accede to the institutions of the West, and the EU in particular, he will still have to face the consequences of his year of opportunistic policies […]. I am afraid that this could be a difficult equation for a master manipulator like President Vucic, though it is an equation with dramatic consequences for his own people”.

Regarding Kosovo and Vladimir Putin’s idea of equating NATO’s 1999 intervention with his attack on Ukraine, Armakolas commented that: “The comparison really is stupid. The wars in the former Yugoslavia began in 1991, mainly as a result of Slobodan Milosevic’s military machine, which attacked the defenceless and virtually disarmed former republics of the Yugoslav Federation. NATO intervened in Yugoslavia in 1999 to stop the then ongoing

Serbian ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’s Albanian population, which would have eventually lead to a new genocide, as happened in Bosnia.”

He also referred to the “instrumentalization” of the Orthodox religion by the political leaderships of the Balkan peoples.

Click to read the report, in Greek.