The United States (U.S.) State Department announces support for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) at a time when Russia is not participating in the work of the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) in BiH, RSE writes.
In a response to Radio Free Europe (RFE), the U.S. State Department reminds that the latest package of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, worth 713 million dollars, will allocate money for some Balkan countries, including BiH.
“Support for BiH will be given within the Fund for the Suppression of Russian Influence,” the response states, without specific information on the specific amount and what the money will be used for.
The Office of the High Representative in BiH (OHR) confirmed a few days ago that Russia has not participated in the work of the PIC since February, and that it has announced that it will not finance the OHR either.
Russia does not recognize the new High Representative in BiH but supports all the decisions made by the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska (NARS) in the past few months, which unconstitutionally transfer the competence from the state of BiH to that BiH entity.
What could American money be used for?
Due to Russia’s support for the separatist tendencies of the RS entity leadership and the disruption of state institutions, BiH could use U.S. assistance in strengthening the defense capabilities of its Armed Forces (AF).
Enver Halilovic, former BiH ambassador to Russia, assessed this for RFE, pointing out that Russia’s support for anti-constitutional activities in RS was most visible through Russia’s positions in the PIC.
“Since the war in Ukraine BiH can actually spread to BiH on the same political matrix, that means that assistance from the U.S.could be training soldiers and elders to deter a possible war in BiH, then support in strengthening both the potential and capacity that are foreseen by BiH’s plans for faster NATO membership, “ Halilovic noted, adding that it would be good for the U.S. to help strengthen BiH’s industrial capacity.
According to him, Russia does not have a greater economic influence on BiH but reminds that BiH is connected to Russia through the gas pipeline.
The survival of international military forces in BiH as a key toAmerican support
Some analysts think that the announced American aid to BiH could be a response to the possible veto of Russia on the extension of the mandate of the peacekeeping mission of the European Union (EU) military forces in BiH, EUFOR Althea.
After the start of the war in Ukraine, the movement of EUFOR forces increased throughout BiH, and an additional 500 troops were deployed in early March as part of the reinforcement of EUFOR Althea forces.
Russia has been more present in BiH since 2014, “trying to secure a more favorable position for itself because of Ukraine,” Zlatko Hadzidedic, a professor of international relations, told RFE, adding that Russia is using the situation in BiH for its own interests.
Russia strengthens its influence without money
BiH still does not have a unified position on the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, because BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik insists on neutrality.
What is the Fund for Suppression of Russian Influence?
The Fund for the Suppression of Russian Influence in Europe and the Balkans was established in accordance with the American Law on the Fight against Russian and Iranian Aggression in 2017.
This law clarifies that the establishment of a fund to fight Russian influence, through which they would help the countries that are exposed, is necessary, as the countries do not have enough resources to fight on their own against “Russian aggression”, and expect American help.