Die Welt: Russia wants a military base in Bosnia's Serb-dominated part

Vlada RS / Arhiv

Russia intends to set up a military base in the Bosnian Serb-dominated part of Bosnia to counter NATO in the Western Balkan region, according to an article by Germany’s ‘Die Welt’.

Russia has donated six MiG-29 fighters to the Serbian military and the donation of 30 BRDM-2MS armored scout vehicles and 30 T-72MS main battle tanks with logistics support is underway, a press release by Serbia’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday said.

“The news brings the aspirations of Serbia to modernise its army and with that to bring its own arms industry back into focus,” said the article, carried by Deutsche Welle.

“That is potentially explosive – as Serbia relies on Russia, a country which showed in Ukraine its decisiveness to expand its sphere of influence with armed force,” said the article by Boris Kalnoki, Die Welt’s correspondent in Budapest.

He wrote that Serbia had “under the dictator Slobodan Milosevic waged wars against Croatia and Kosovo, and in the Bosnian war helped the Serbs there.”

“Having this in mind, announcements of Serbia’s Government that it will attack Kosovo if necessary, if that country forms its own army, sound especially threatening,” he wrote.

The article says that the parliament in Pristina decided in December to form an army, partly because “Serbia is arming itself.”

“That is part of the overall arming in eastern and central Europe,” he wrote, adding that Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria are accelerating the modernisation of their arsenals stemming from Soviet times.

But he also wrote that Croatia aims to buy F-16 fighter jets to replace its old MiG 21’s.

“Considering that this represents the strengthening of NATO in the region, it is not surprising that Russia is counteracting. While NATO mostly relies on Albania, Kosovo and Croatia in former Yugoslavia, Russia is concentrating on Serbia and Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia” he wrote.

The US has one of its biggest military bases in Kosovo, Bondsteel, and Russia wants “to build its military base in Republika Srpska,” he assessed.

The article reasons that, since Serbs are economically weaker than the EU members in the region, “Moscow is giving them arms as gifts: Serbia gets, apart from the tanks, six MiG 29 fighter jets, Belarus gives them another eight.”

This will result in Serbia having the strongest air force in the region, it said.