April 9, 2014

The Balkans and the “Crimean Crisis”

Analysts are unanimous that the reasons and at the same time formal causes for V.Putin's “Crimean Campaign” became a threat of the rapid rapprochement of Ukraine with the EU and NATO, and known only to the Kremlin “harassments of compatriots — Russians and the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine”.

Analysts are unanimous that the reasons and at the same time formal causes for V.Putin's “Crimean Campaign” became a threat of the rapid rapprochement of Ukraine with the EU and NATO, and known only to the Kremlin “harassments of compatriots — Russians and the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine”

According to our information, the “hawks” from the President of the RF's environment continue to develop plans for inspiring in April-May this year new waves of mass secessionist actions not only in the south-east of Ukraine, but also in areas of compact residence of the Ruthenians in EU countries and countries-candidates for EU membership, in particular, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in the East of Poland — with the Belarusian minority. They do not lose the hope, that the willingness to support separatist movements will increase in Spain, the UK, Canada, Italy, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Not discounting the globality and large scale of the Kremlin strategists' plans, we should keep in sight the situation in the Balkans — in one of the most important for the national security of Ukraine regions — where there is also the threat to specific “Russian interests”: the possibility of the EU and NATO's enlargement, competition on energy and other projects of the Russian Federation, as well as presence of Slavic and Orthodox population.

In the context of Russia's military aggression and its plans for the annexation of the part of the territory of Ukraine, we should point out that, apart from the active use of the “Kosovo precedent” for the international-law justifying the annexation of the Crimea and Sevastopol, Moscow deliberately forms a “support group” to its policy in the Balkans, thus striving to stop the movement of some countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo) in the direction of the European and Euro-Atlantic community.

Chetniks' Movement is Yugoslav monarchical-nationalist guerrilla organization during the Second World War
Chetniks' Movement is Yugoslav monarchical-nationalist guerrilla organization during the Second World War, politically was standing on the ideas of Great Serbian nationalism. Founded May 13, 1941, a leader - Colonel (later commissioned to General by the Yugoslav government in exile) Dragoljub Mihailovich. Chetniks were guided by the Royal Government of Yugoslavia in exile. Ethnically mainly consisted of Serbs
Fото http://ru.wikipedia.org/

There are different data on such work. For example, back on March 16, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić in his statement actually supported Russia's official position, arguing that “the method by which it was possible to change the power in Ukraine is unacceptable” and expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the current leadership of our state. Moreover, Moscow occupiers actively use the experience and human resource of the Serbian ultra-right organization “Chetniks' Movement”, militants of which appeared in the Peninsula in early March of this year with the aim to “help” local self-defense units and the Cossacks. The Kremlin also made an attempt to internationalize the conflict in the Crimea.

Of course, for the Serbian economy, which is on the verge of recession, with the increasing state debt (63% of GDP) and budget deficit (6.5% of GDP) and high unemployment (over 24 %), the promised over the next three years, Russian investments into different, except for energy, projects of more than 5 billion US dollars, are of particular importance in the implementation of effective anti-crisis measures, including the scheduled for the end of 2014 reconstruction of 153 enterprises.

In the situation of the Kremlin's political, energy and economic pressure and with some unfavorable for them decisions of the EU (in particular, giving up the project “Nabucco-West”) other Balkan states also have to take difficult decisions.

Exports of natural gas in the Danube-Balkan countries (2010-2012 years), in % to the regional supply
Exports of natural gas in the Danube-Balkan countries (2010-2012 years), in % to the regional supply
Fотоhttp://www.rg.ru/

Considering the region as an important springboard for its expansion onto the European energy market, Moscow will not give up Russian energy companies' (“Lukoil”, “Gazpromneft” and “Zarubezhneft”) entering the Balkan market for large scale investments into the oil and petrochemical industries, acquisition of assets of local companies, including Refineries, participation in exploration and oil production in the territory of South-Eastern Europe and in the construction of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline.

Western Balkan states, which are candidates for accession to the EU
Western Balkan states, which are candidates for accession to the EU (Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Fото http://www.greecetoday.ru/

The Kremlin is also planning to take advantage of the unstable situation in the countries of the Western Balkans, only now applying for the EU membership (Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina), the political forces of which have to resort to populist methods of solving political problems and to actively exploit nationalist rhetoric.

Greek leftist coalition "SYRIZA" has turned into a party
Greek leftist coalition "SYRIZA" has turned into a party

Fото http://www.sensusnovus.ru/

Moscow is ready to use in anti-Ukrainian information campaign the orientation of the priorities of the Greek Presidency of the EU in the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans directions, as well as A.Samaras' government's cautious attitude to the possibility of Brussels' introducing tough sanctions against the Russian Federation, which is one of the most important trade partners of Greece. At this, Russia has a traditional influence on Greek political circles, especially on the socialist-communist bloc “SYRIZA”, figures of which rebroadcast Russian disinformation about “Ukrainian neo-Nazis, who may constitute a threat to ethnic Greeks of the Azov region”. Anti-Ukrainian rhetoric is also actively used by the ultra-right extremist party “Golden Dawn”, individual members of which, together with Greek Communists were observers at the organized by the Russian side so-called referendum in the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Evangelos Venizelos
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Evangelos Venizelos during a meeting with Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov expressed support for Ukraine's position on the territorial integrity
Fотоhttp://www.ua-ru.info/

At the same time, during Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister of Greece and leader of the coalition of the Social Democratic Party “PASOK” E.Venizelos' visit to our country, he supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine, expressing readiness of Athens to lead the initiative to hold an international summit devoted to the issues of providing economic assistance to our country; he condemned speculations regarding the situation of the Greek minority and pointed out that Ukraine, if it meet the Maastricht criteria, has the opportunity to join the EU.

A difficult choice has also to be made by Bulgaria. In the situation of limited abilities within the EU and a strong influence on the official Sofia by Brussels, Berlin and Moscow (Moscow — through using the energy factor), the center-left government of P.Oresharski has to take into consideration the position of the dominating in it left-centrists, traditionally trying to find a compromise between pro-European and pro-Russian options in its foreign policy.

In this regard, the Bulgarian side during the discussion in the EU institutions, resorted to a compromise position on sanctions against Russia because of the latter's occupation of the territory of Ukraine. On the one hand, the Bulgarian government officials (primarily, Foreign Minister K.Vigenin) consistently supported the European integration course and the territorial integrity of our state, and the center-right President R. Plevneliev condemned the destructive position of the Kremlin. On the other hand, the center-left Cabinet of Ministers under the influence of Sergei Stanishev (one of the “shadow” government leaders and a "half-Russian" /on mother's side/ with overtly pro-Russian views) criticized cancelling by the Verkhovna Rada of the law on languages​​, explaining it by his concern about the protection of interests of Ukrainian Bulgarians. Besides, S. Stanishev at the Congress of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party instructed his nominee K.Vigenin to necessarily take into account the economic, first of all, the energy, Bulgaria's dependence on Russia, which is to determine Sophia's critical attitude to the EU's introduction of any severe sanctions against Russia.

The President of the Republic of Srpska M. Dodik
The President of the Republic of Srpska M. Dodik fully supported the unlawful inclusion of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea into the Russian Federation

Fото http://dic.academic.ru/

Bosnia and Herzegovina's leadership, burdened with the inefficient government system, a record in Europe 44 percent unemployment, incapability of Sarajevo with support from the EU to maintain the balance of interests of the three ethnic and religious groups and minimum social standards, fears the use of the Crimean events for strengthening the protest movement of the Bosnian Serbs. In particular, the President of the Republic of Srpska M. Dodik fully supported the unlawful inclusion of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea into the Russian Federation, taking into account the dominance of radical anti-Western and pro-Russian views of the local population, who considers itself “forcibly torn from its historical homeland” and holds erroneous analogies with the Crimea.

At the same time the annexation of the Crimea by Russia caused a negative reaction of the leadership of Croatia, which, taking into consideration its being a member of the EU and a desire to become the leader in the Western Balkans, adheres a generally favorable for the official Kiev position on sovereignty and inviolability of Ukraine's territorial integrity, non-interference in internal and foreign policies of other states. Montenegro denied the Russian Defense Ministry the ability to use port infrastructure of the country for needs of the Navy of the Russian Federation, as well as rejected the prospect of creating a service center for Russian ships in one of the Montenegrin ports. The official Tirana, hoping for Albania's getting the status of candidate country for the EU membership at the meeting of the European Council in June this year, fully supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

The desire of political and business elites of the Balkan countries to maintain their access to the Russian market and energy resources will determine their prudent attitude to introduction of the USA and EU's sanctions against Russia

In general, the desire of political and business elites of the Balkan countries to maintain their access to the Russian market and energy resources in a crisis situation in the socio-economic sphere will determine their prudent attitude to introduction of the USA and EU's sanctions against Russia. Besides, in some countries (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece) the Kremlin has enlisted the full support of its revanchist policy toward Ukraine by the radical left (“SYRІZA”) and post-communist (BSP / pro-Russian wing /) forces, as well as by xenophobic and Euroskeptic parties (“Golden Dawn”, “Attack” ).

At the same time, representatives of national political elites of the countries of the region are concerned with the negative impact of breaking trade and economic relations with Ukraine on the state of the foreign trade balance, possible reduction in demand of Ukrainian consumers for their products, as well as termination of deliveries of Russian natural gas to their GTS (Bulgaria and Serbia).