Russia, kneeling in Ukraine, has no desire to start a war in the Balkans

2023-11-23 09:42:00, Opinione Piro Ahmetaj
Russia, kneeling in Ukraine, has no desire to start a war in the Balkans
General Piro Ahmetaj

The warning of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, is still fresh, perhaps frightening for some: " Russia is preparing war between the Balkan countries "! Perhaps rightly so, but in my judgment without an in-depth analysis, this statement given in an interview to the African media (!) "went around the globe" and was commented on by almost all capitals with weight in global security. Also, naturally this comment continues to remain "top-news" from Institutions, factors, media and public opinion in the countries of the Western Balkans, including in Tirana and Pristina. 

As in any development, which I consider to have an impact on national interests, I have certainly followed it with increased attention; I have consulted with experts/colleagues in Washington, Brussels, etc. and I have analyzed with additional responsibility this statement and the positions that followed it, but I have consciously chosen not to give a "hasty opinion" to the interest of the main media not only in country.

The reason why I remained silent was that beyond the " mass of media misuse of President Zelenski's comment ", I find it probably worn out and "not very wise/found", although it is still intended to keep the cohesion and support for the Euro burning -Atlantic in the stoic confrontation of Ukraine against the aggression of Putinist Russia.

On the other hand, from the very beginning I must make it clear that, under no circumstances and for no reason would I ever want the findings in this opinion to be taken as a debate with President Zelenski, much less with a personality who for 600 days and night is bearing the weight of a nation martyred in war. Having said that, in the format of " a very kind reply ", I am presenting some strategic views and opposition about this statement, or in short: " why is it completely impossible for Russia to open, ignite or engage in a new war front"? , or more specifically to address some professional, but optimistic messages if I can call them like this: "why there will be no war in the Balkans "?:

First, to put it more directly, in the current geopolitical circumstances, I judge that: "Russia - Putinist is completely impossible to undertake (no, no), light the fuses, or even militarily support a war, or a military clash among the countries of the Balkan region.

The skeptics, or even the egocentric, may rightly remember that precisely "in the last days of the Stalinist empire", the Kremlin sent a motorized detachment to Pristina Airport (over 2700 km away!!), to gave a message to the winners of the war in Kosovo, the USA, NATO and the West: "The bear is hiding in the polar caves but it is not dead yet ". Yes, even the rational ones can rightly remember that not by chance this happened in June 1999, that is, only 2 months before Putin occupied the Kremlin as the new Tsar (August 9, 1999). The protagonists of NATO (the winners of the war), in spite of the Generals of the time, have valued it as a "reasoned/justified mistake that allowed this demonstration of power by Russia in Pristina" but which in fact turned out to be a "useless tolerance" for the balances as well as the arrival of the geopolitical interests of the Euro-Atlantic alliance. In fact, history certainly gave the right to the Generals, but this is a discussion that, as the people say: " after the pilaf, or without the blessings already "!

On the other hand, it should be noted that also due to the weight of geopolitical discredit that Russia-Putinist is facing after the neo-Nazi enterprise towards the sovereignty of Ukraine, involvement in a new war front in the Balkans (ie in Europe, not in Africa... .) would be a suicidal adventure, since in this case it would not only never be tolerated, but I am convinced that it would be punished in an exemplary manner by the military power of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO/USA).

Secondly, there is another fact, since the Kremlin could not conquer Ukraine with flowers, dances, tanks, missiles, or bayonets, but after 21 months it is crawling like Hamas terrorists in the tunnels and the trenches of Zaporizhia, Oblast, Bakhmut, etc., so not only has it shamefully lost the War with Ukraine but also the battle to challenge the global security order and the military power of the trans-Atlantic alliance (US/UK/NATO/EU)".

Thus, there is no dilemma left, not only for the rusty minds not only in Belgrade, that Russia-Putinist, mainly because of the aggression against Ukraine, is today more isolated and more discreet than ever before in its history. Out of 195 (including Kosovo) only 4 states (Kim-Jong's Korea and 3 terrorist states of Africa) recognized this neo-Nazi adventure. It is because of this war that he is potentially at risk of being excluded from the 5th decision-making body of the Security Council/UN, as well as from the International Court of Justice, an "arrest warrant for war crimes" has been issued against Putin and for the entire list of Generals and tyrannical courtiers around him. So left, or out of the Ukrainian trenches, and involved in a war in the Balkans with the west (over 2700 km distance), it would be a perverse adventure!

Thirdly, to look at this statement and some of those that followed it from a more relaxed perspective, it should also be considered that despite the "media temperature" I find almost nothing new in President Zelenski's statement, as it is known by everyone the factors that Russia for its geopolitical interests (including pride and dreams), as historically but especially in the last 24 years (under Putin's rule), has done everything it could to keep the Balkan countries destabilized and out of the Euro-Atlantic agenda .

But it should also be underlined that fortunately Russia has failed, since the vast majority, if not all the countries of the region, are already members of NATO, while Kosovo and Bosnia officially aspire to membership. Thus, only Serbia remains, which "will drink from three mothers", that is, from Moscow, Brussels and Washington!  

So currently in the Balkans there are factors, actors, relationships, alignments, interests and geopolitical ambitions completely different from those before the 1990s. So to undertake a military adventure or to get involved/start a war in these circumstances would result in indecision and even worse what a mission impossible.

Fourthly, I have emphasized in several other assessments with this subject, that Russia apparently failed "to stop at any cost" (even with a coup) the integration of North Macedonia and Montenegro into NATO, the last card or the only weapon to keep the region destabilized, or even for a military adventure, remains Belgrade. But in the current circumstances, even Serbia, which in more than 24 years continues to pay dearly for the consequences of a war with the Balkan countries and NATO, finds it completely impossible to return to Milosevic's bloody adventure. Seen like this, I hope that even Serbia will not allow "to be endlessly used as cannon fodder" for the Kremlin's geopolitical interests!

Not only President Zelensky, very rightly brings to attention that the recycling of the bloody conflict in the Middle East is a product of the Kremlin, where it also managed to produce some short-term bloody question marks on the counter-offensive of Ukraine through terrorist groups. On the other hand, we remember that no one and in no case has Serbia been considered a terrorist state, or Mr. Vucic, like Bin Laden, or like the political head of Hamas. On the contrary, it has been "caressed as a moderate shrine by the West", while calls have been repeated for official Belgrade, including for colleagues in the field of Strategic Security, not to spend "uselessly" billions of Euros on armaments; not to continue the approach as a terrorist state (Kim Jong's Korea) in the cross-border area between two sovereign states (Kosovo/Serbia); not to be driven by the interests of criminal groups; but to demilitarize the border with Kosovo as well as to unconditionally return to negotiations and measures of mutual trust between the two countries and the Euro-Atlantic integration agenda of the region, etc.

On the other hand, we emphasize that Serbia does not have the power to face militarily either with NATO, no, not with all the countries of the Region, even if they were not members of NATO. We remember that Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, defeated the bloody machine of Milosevic after the 1990s, while today they have developed critical capacities to face and defeat any adventure of Belgrade, either alone or supported by Moscow. As a result, Serbia is not only not threatened by anyone, but can no longer scare anyone, apart from undermining the interests and the integration agenda of itself/Serbia.

In summary. Having said the above, it should be noted that there are certainly still (over)powerful delusional, organized crime interests and rusty minds in Moscow, Belgrade and not only that keep the wicks of a Balkan war burning. I also believe that there is no need to repeat that Russia - Putinist, is, let's say, "within its right" to return Moscow to its glory, interests, or even geopolitical dreams before the 1990s.

On the other hand, not only Zelenski but also the well-known Balkan strategist, Janusz Bugajski, still sees Serbia as a pawn of Russia in the Balkans when he underlines that: "to increase the geopolitical weight in Southeast Europe, Moscow can use the Serbs to launch a new war with its neighbors ". Therefore, for Russia's only strategic ally in the region, i.e. Serbia, as well as We/everyone have the right to address some questions about official Belgrade:

1. "Why do you spend (actually waste) more than €1 billion per year on defense?" Why is it armed to the teeth (mainly from Russia) with Tanks, Mig-29, Mi-35 combat helicopters, Pantsir-S missiles and Chinese FK-3? Who is in danger (nobody) and which sovereign country does Serbia (actually Kosovo) threaten?!

2. Is it not delusional nonsense that for the interests of Moscow, or criminal groups, Belgrade threatens the territorial integrity of Kosovo and NATO/KFOR troops with a mission there!? Isn't it (itself) diplomatically discrediting when the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade inspects Serbian army units on the borders of a sovereign state/Kosovo!?   while Belgrade accuses Kosovo of threatening "the existence of the Serbian minority in the north", quite similar to those of Russia towards Georgia (2008); in 2014 and after February 2022 to Ukraine! 

3. Moreover, I repeat that in addition to the shameful exhaustion that certainly awaits this winter in Ukraine, Putinist Russia has also lost the battle to ignite a new war front in the Balkans by inspiring criminal groups, the agenda of corrupt politicians or Dodik-type extremists...!?

Despite this warning, the strong messages from Washington are also demonstrated: "The USA remains committed to not allowing a war in the Region". While only two days ago, during the visit to the region, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, repeated that: " We do not see any military threat that would come from Russia against any NATO member country, or the region , but still we are careful and are watching closely " as well as a hopeful message from the EU: " this situation shows us even more that progress on the EU path is extremely important for the stability and peace of the region the Western Balkans".

In addition, beyond this statement and despite the recycling of war and the misuse of Belgrade for the interests of Russia-Putinist, 24 years after the liberation of Kosovo, I believe even more strongly that peace remains the only option and mission, so that security is consumed beyond bloody history, in the interest of the security of life, property, prosperity of the citizens of Kosovo & Serbia as well as the Euro-Atlantic perspective for the 6 countries of the Western Balkans.  

On the other hand, I emphasize once again that: "the shameful loss of the war, economic collapse and international discredit, including in the Balkans that awaits Russia-Putinist after Ukraine, remains a favorable geopolitical circumstance (but not a gift) in favor of the factorization of RS at the tables of dialogue and major decision-making (USA/NATO/UN) as well as to protect and develop nationwide interests in the Region, the Mediterranean, etc"!

Having said the above, I appreciate at the right time that in the capacity of an Expert (I believe not unknown) with experience in matters of national security, the region, NATO, etc., I would publicly and fraternally advise the factors and actors in Tirana and Prishtina: " to bow down before the bloody history and state responsibilities " to give life to the " Strategic Partnership Form = Two sovereign States a single Nation ", confirming in Washington, Brussels, etc. that "even though delayed" this approach does not threaten any country, including Serbia, on the contrary, it will contribute as a rational balance for long-term peace and the Euro-Atlantic Integration of the peoples and countries of the region". 

* Piro Ahmetaj, Expert for National Security, the Region & NATO,

Vice President of the Atlantic Council; as well as ex:

Advisor to the President of RS; Deputy Minister of Defense and

Military representative of RS in SHAPE/NATO.

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