Secessionist aspirations of the Republika Srpska (RS), as well as general political insecurity and the blockade of state institutions considerably worsen the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Mention of a form of conflict has become customary, and analysts go so far as to warn against the possibility of engaging private foreign armies.
Ahead of a Congressional hearing on US engagement in the Balkans held on Thursday, Congressman Bill Keating, a Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the Congressional subcommittee, addressed Voice of America (VOA). Of particular interest is the part in which he talks about potential military threats against BiH and the engagement of notorious foreign private armies, and in this regard the need to strengthen NATO’s presence in the region.
A VOA reporter noted that much of the Dayton Accord is “a huge deterrent for NATO” and that Annex 1A directs NATO to ensure security is maintained throughout BiH. It transferred this responsibility to the European Union (EU) in 2004, which has since reduced its contingent to around 700, or 4,300 less than EUCOM (US European Army Command) deems necessary. Keating also learned that many, including analyst Kurt Bassuener, have long argued that increasing deterrence capacity is crucial, especially given the events in Ukraine in 2014 and the attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016.
“I think if there was an increase in the military presence at the time of the diplomatic effort, it could hurt the things I’m talking about, like our efforts for the rule of law. So in my opinion at this point we should move forward through diplomacy, move towards enlargement and inclusion of the EU, make economic progress and see if we can open more doors for economic ties with the EU. ‘EU and United States. threat from groups like the ‘Wagner Group’ or the ‘Little Green Men’, I think we will be vigilant and ready to act quickly, ”he stressed.
In addition, he added that he would do nothing to upset or incite those who talk about secession and separatism.
“I don’t think the threat is military in nature at the moment, but after Ukraine we are more cautious about such actions than before. However, I think that our objective must remain diplomatic and economic ”, he declared.
I believe that an escalation of the army could, in theory, calm things down, but it could also provoke a greater reaction from those who would like to use it for propaganda purposes, ”he added.
“That is why I consider it an unnecessary risk, but I would like to stress it all the same: we have learned the lessons from Ukraine. We have learned to be very careful. I don’t think the EU, NATO and the US will tolerate this kind of aggression, ”Keating concluded.
“The Wagner Group” is a private Russian military company that has participated in military operations on a number of modern battlefields, from Syria to Ukraine. “Little Green Men” refers to masked soldiers from the Russian Federation in unmarked green military uniforms, who carry modern Russian military weapons and who appeared during the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.