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On the first anniversary of Croatia’s joining the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013, the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society has issued a new report – Russia’s Role in the Balkans – Cause for Concern? – analysing the extent to which Russia has gained influence in the Balkans over recent years. The report argues the Balkans is directly affected by the aggressive and revisionist turn in Russian foreign policy under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. Surveying the extent of Russia’s influence in energy, economic, political, diplomatic, military, and cultural affairs in the Balkans, the report warns the EU of the danger posed by allowing the authoritarian methods of ‘Putinism’ to be imported into Europe via the back door.
Key findings of the report include:
Commenting on the launch of the report, Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of the Russia Studies Centre and co-author of the report, stated:
“The struggle in the Balkans goes to the fundamental difference between the liberty and freedom of the Western worldview and the authoritarian ‘spoils for the few’ of President Putin. We must win this struggle – in order to do so, Europe will have to be far more assertive in its response to Putin’s expansion of his sphere of influence by soft and hard power. Our efforts so far have been sorely lacking.”
David Clark, Chair of the Russia Foundation and co-author of the report, added:
“The European Union cannot afford to be indifferent to Russia’s increasing influence in the Balkans following events in Ukraine. Although Vladimir Putin is unlikely to resort to the use of force in the same way, he sees the region as a zone of competition with the West and is determined to use the instruments at his disposal to undermine agreed EU objectives. European leaders need a better understanding of Russian goals in the Balkans and more effective policies for countering their negative effects.”
Russia’s Role in the Balkans – Cause for Concern? is available to download here.