Preparatory Kremlin’s works on the formation of a new hotbed of instability in the Balkans are at the final stage. Moscow is actively trying to use various “pressure points” to shake the situation in this region, using the political community in Serbia. But still the question arises: do the Serbs themselves understand that they are becoming a “hybrid instrument” of the Kremlin? Moscow uses “useful idiots” to destabilize the Balkans. Once again, Kremlin creates a “bloody tornado” in the region, which will simply “add fuel to the flames”.
The main objective is to create a focus of instability on the “outskirts of Europe”, while simultaneously intimidating this conflict situation in the West and demanding that they fulfill the conditions put forward by Moscow. The demands of Russians are reduced to several points: to recognize the Crimea as the part of Russia, to lift the sanctions, to withdraw NATO troops further from borders of Russia, to share influence in the region with Russia.
What’s in return? There is a mediation of the Russian Federation in the settlement of future crises. However, it is the veiled blackmail from the Kremlin behind this seemingly peacekeeping.
At the same time, Moscow once again puts the official Belgrade on the wrong-foot, using Serbian radicals in its gambles, as it was in Ukraine and Montenegro.
It needs to be clarified that not all representatives of the Serbian elite agree to put their country up for a grilling only because the Kremlin wants this. Not all of them consider that it is necessary to submit without questions to the Russian leadership.
There are a lot of adequate forward-thinking politicians In Serbia. One of them is the leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Serbia (LDP), Chadomir Jovanovich. He recently called on the opposition to assume responsibility and to declare that Belgrade is linking its future with the West. In other words, the politician declared the urgent need to change the development vector of the country, before it will be too late.
“There should be a shift in the solution of the problem of the Kosovar Albanians in order to prevent a new war. It is also necessary to suppress Russian ambitions in Bosnia, where Russia wants to destabilize the situation, putting pressure on Milordad Dodik. The solution to these key issues depends not only on the Prime Minister Vucic and his will, but also on the opposition. We are all interconnected “, – said Chadomir Jovanovich in a commentary to the newspaper” Danas “.
There are other political forces who agree with Jovanovich’s opinion, but they are in a minority. The Serbian authorities are oriented towards the Kremlin. However, the fact that they maintain close ties with Moscow is still half a mile. The main thing is that the political elite give silent consent to the participation of Serbian mercenaries in the war against Ukraine. Moreover, they agree to be an instrument of Russia for “shaking Europe”.
A perfect example of such a policy is the recent statement by the head of the pro-Russian “Serbian radical party” Voislav Sheshel. He advocated for immediate declaration of a non-gratuitous persona for the Ukrainian ambassador Alexander Aleksandrovich. Sheshel accused the diplomat of “insulting the Serbian people” and said that “we should quickly expel him from Serbia”.
Why did Sheshel turn against Ukrainian ambassador and stand up for his expulsion from the country?
All the matter is that Aleksandrovich doubted that Serbia took a neutral position in the conflict at the Donbass. The Ambassador noted that, despite the previously adopted law on the prohibition of citizens to engage in hostilities outside the state borders, 300 Serbian mercenaries are fighting on the territory of the Donbas.
“No one of the Serbian citizens was imprisoned for their illegal activities against Ukraine. If I am mistaken, I propose to the Serbian government to refute my words”, – said Alexandrovich in an interview.
Also, the diplomat said that Russia is using Serbia to destabilize the Western Balkans. “Russia is preparing Serbian mercenaries for the murder of Ukrainians. Russia used Serbian extremists for the coup in Montenegro. Russia encourages Serbian separatism in the Republika Srpska to destabilize Bosnia. Russia uses the Serbian factor to destabilize Macedonia. Russia sells planes to Serbia to create tensions in relations with Croatia”, – he said.
According to diplomatic logic, any country should accept at least demonstrative measures against militants who have left the country to participate in an armed conflict. However, this logic does not work in Serbia.
The actions and statements of the leader of the Pro-Russian Radical party Sheshel are absolutely clear about the expulsion of the Ukrainian ambassador. He follows the Kremlin’s instructions. And the negative reaction of the Serbian Foreign Ministry shows only one thing that they decided to play on the side of Russia. Serbian authorities are ready to put the security of their citizens and peace in the region in order to satisfy Putin’s imperial ambitions.
Thus, the State Secretary of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivica Tonchev said that the ambassador is trying to split Serbia and Russia and informed that if the Ukrainian diplomacy continues such a policy, the Ministry will be forced to take retaliatory measures.
“Given that the repeated comments made by the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to direct ambassador’s energy to the fulfillment of the duties specified in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations did not have any effect. I would like to address the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Ukraine with a request to indicate to him the inadmissibility of such behavior. Otherwise, we will be forced to apply the usual measures in such cases, “- said Ivitsa Tonchev.
Let’s still figure out what exactly happens, who is fighting in the territory of our country, and what is the role of the Serbian mercenaries in the conflict on the territory of Ukraine in general.
Serbian “Dogs of War”
Let’s start with the Voislav Sheshel, who called for the expulsion of our ambassador from Serbia. This man is the leader of the Serbian Radical party now, but even a couple of years ago he was in jail in Hague. Sheshel was accused by the international tribunal for war crimes on the territory of the former Yugoslavia in 1991-1993.
Then Voislav Szeshel did not just engage in hostilities in Croatia and Bosnia, he organized Serbian voluntary units (“Sheshelevichi”, “Chetniki”, “White Eagles”), which were supposed to occupy territories inhabited by ethnic Serbs. The so-called Russian volunteers, in particular, Igor Girkin, helped him.
When the occupation of Crimea began in March 2014, the armed Chetnik’s units responded to the “invitation” of the Russian Cossacks (Russian special services) and moved on the territory of the peninsula to “protect the Russian-speaking and Orthodox from the Ukrainian fascists.”
Then, the same Chetniks, as the unit “named after Jovan Shevich” under the command of Bratislav Zhivkovich, deployed on the Donbass to kill the Ukrainians. By the way, Zhivkovich received the award of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation – a medal for the liberation of the Crimea.
The organization of such “campaigns” was dealt with by Dejan Mirovich – chairman of the Serbian Radical Party. Sheshel was in the Hague prison at that time.
So, after releasing from the Hague prison, Voislav Sheshel headed the process that was launched by the Russian secret services.
There are many Serbian mercenaries on the territory of Donbass now. Sniper Deyana Berych constantly interviews with Russian TV channels. He still fights in the Donbass. There is also a former spokesman for one of the units of the Serbian Special Forces Radomir Pochuch. Sasha Sinjelic, the leader of the radical organization “Gray Wolves,” also participated in hostilities in the east of Ukraine. He also prepared a terrorist attack in Montenegro.
In January 2016, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin met in Belgrade with Voislav Sheshel. They have inmate relations for a long time.
“We have had good old relations with him since the beginning of the 1990s. So, the meeting with him took place in an informal setting, and it was a private meeting. It does not concern the official program of my stay in Belgrade,” Rogozin told RIA Novosti.
These words confirm the involvement of the Kremlin in the formation and financing of all these “volunteer battalions” that fought in Croatia and Bosnia at the end of the last century.
But let’s talk about another thing. Mr. Rogozin presented a number of caskets with images of the annexed Crimea by Russian troops to his friend Sheshel. Then he wished that his Serbian “friend will bring to him a gift like that, but with image of Kosovo, as a part of Serbia”.
However, this is not the most important thing. Serbian political scientist Ventsislav Bujic said to the edition “Crimea. Reality” that “when Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin arrived in Serbia for a meeting with the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Voislav Sheshel in early 2016, he stated that the most important priorities for the Kremlin now are Montenegro and Macedonia … “.
And this can be understood, because Montenegro was at the final stage of joining NATO (now a member country of the Alliance) at that time, and Macedonia has announced its desire to finally join NATO and the European Union before that. But, it is known that Russia plans to carry out the gas pipeline “Turkish Flow” through this country.
It can be said that these few Rogozin’s caskets meant not only a gift with the image of the Crimea, but something more …
Serbia as the staging base?
A group of extremists tried to make a coup attempt in Montenegro in the form of an assassination attempt of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic On October 16, 2016.
According to the investigation, Eduard Shishmakov, a former deputy military attaché of the Russian embassy in Poland, and another suspect, Vladimir Popov, transferred 200 thousand euros to the Serbian nationalist Alexander Sinjelich, who fought in the Donbass on the side of the pro-Russian militants, to find people to carry out the coup. He also had to find a sniper to eliminate Djukanovich.
It is still unclear who was no longer lucky: Sinjelich or Russian intelligence officers. Sinjelich denounced absolutely everyone to the police.
Then Minister of Defense of Montenegro Predrag Boškovich, in a commentary to the British newspaper The Telegraph, said that “there is no doubt that the coup was financed and organized by Russian intelligence in cooperation with local radicals”.
Immediately after the Montenegrin coup attempt, a secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Nikolay Patrushev arrived in an emergency visit to the Serbian capital. Russian intelligence officers were deported from Serbia, as a result of his visit.
Recently, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation said that Ananiy Nikich, one of the suspected of terrorism in Montenegro and in organizing a coup attempt, will not be extradite to anyone.
“According to the Federal Law” On Refugees “, Nikich is recognized as a refugee on the territory of the Russian Federation”, – said Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.
Also, the journalists of the British edition The Telegraph got the photos that featured the same officers of the GRU of the Russian Federation, Shishmakov and Popov sitting on the bench and waiting for Sinjelich. Photos are probably made during the last meeting of Sinjelic with Shishmakov before the coup attempt in Montenegro in Kalemegdan Park, Belgrade, near the Belgrade fortress.
In other words, these photos are a powerful proof that these two were preparing a state coup in Montenegro and Russia is still involved with this crime.
At the same time, statements made by the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Serbia, Chadomir Jovanovich, are quite interesting. Just a few days ago, the politician said that the Russian-Serbian center in the Nishe is an intelligence base designed to advance Russian interests in Serbia and Balkans. Also, Jovanovich pointed out that a coup for Montenegro and Macedonia was being prepared in this center in the last year.
Counterintelligence Service of Macedonia reported that the honorary consulates of the RF in the Macedonian cities of Bitola and Ohrid work as intelligence bases. The report also says that all operatives are managed from an office located in Serbian Belgrade.
This means that Russia will continue to use Serbia and the Serbian radicals for their gambles in the region. In addition, this “Serbian contingent” has already been trained by the Kremlin in the “hybrid war” against Ukraine. Serbian radicals have learned how to “legitimately” occupy the territories of other states, to deploy “hidden” military aggression, to create “people’s republics” and to conduct information warfare.
Therefore, the West should pay closer attention to the European “pressure point” in the Balkans, and the Serbian authorities must think about what awaits them after realizing of the Kremlin scenario for the destabilization of the Balkans.