Bosnian Serbs’ acquisition of weapons raises Western concerns

  • Cristina Nastasa
  • 19.2.2018 08:25

On 13 February, The Guardian reported that a shipment of 2500 Russian-made automatic rifles, purchased from Serbia by the Bosnian Serb police forces, is due to arrive this March. Both the government in Sarajevo and the EU fear that the pro-Russian President of the Republika Srpska (RS), Milorad Dodik, could use these weapons to intimidate his political rivals and advance his separatist designs. 

Besides the arms acquisition, Western fears are also stoked by the soon-to-be opened training centre which is regarded in connection with a 2015 agreement stipulating that Russia will provide counter-terrorist training to RS law enforcement. In spite of denying any intentions to involve Russia in the region, Dodik's close ties with president Putin, and the paramilitary links between Russia and Republika Srpska are well known and documented. Similar  concerns were underscored Valentin Inzko, the international community’s high representative in Bosnia, who added that, given the country's recent history, the purchase of weapons could lead to a local arms race. These latest developments raise a number of additional concerns with regard to Sarajevo's possible accession path to the EU which was outlined last week in the EU Western Balkan Integration Strategy.

 

About author: Cristina Nastasa

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