Do the Western Balkans face a coming Russian storm?

Press release

Moscow’s meddling in the Western Balkans

2018 will see the launch of a renewed Russian campaign in the Balkans

Russian politicians see the Balkans as crucial part of their geopolitical strategy, outlines Mark Galeotti in a new study for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). However, Russia’s interest in the Balkans is less about the region so much as how it can be used for leverage with both Europe and Turkey.

In the report “Do the Western Balkans face a Russian storm?”, the author predicts the Kremlin’s renewed intentions to take advantage of countries’ institutional weaknesses and their level of affinity or vulnerability to Russia. All of the countries of the Western Balkans have weak institutions and economies, and Serbia also has a high level of historical and cultural affinity to Russia.

Europe needs to recognise the challenge Russia poses in the Western Balkans and develop a serious approach that is at once more welcoming and demanding.  Likewise, the Western Balkan countries need to acknowledge that Russian attentions are largely opportunistic and destructive, seeking to exploit them to put pressure on the West, and represent a challenge demanding more serious reforms.

ECFR visiting fellow Mark Galeotti explains: “Russia looks to the Balkans as a battlefield in its wider ‘political war’, in part to compensate for its mixed success with ‘active measures’ in Europe.”  


Notes to the editors

Mark Galeotti is also a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy.International Relations Prague and principal director of the Mayak Intelligence consultancy. He is a former ECFR visiting fellow.

Media inquiries: For comments and interview requests, please contact report author Mark Galeotti at [email protected].
Alternatively, contact ECFR’s communications officer, Wiebke Ewering, at [email protected] T: +49 (0)30 3250510-27 M: +49 (0)176 42065425 or ECFR’s communications team at [email protected]

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