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Between the EU and Moscow: How Russia Exploits Divisions in Bosnia

Entrenched divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have hampered EU and U.S. efforts to build functional institutions and integrate the country into Western clubs. Dysfunctionality in turn provides fertile ground for meddling by Russia, which appears to have won the battle for the hearts and minds of Bosnian Serbs.

Published on June 27, 2024

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a piece of unfinished business for the EU in its “near abroad,” which has made it a convenient target for Russian meddling and opportunism. While it is easier for Moscow to throw its weight around in countries like Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, BiH stands out as one of the battlegrounds where Russia and the West are vying for influence. The standoff is taking place amid chronic regional dysfunction, with the legacy of 1990s wars casting a shadow, authoritarian tendencies on the rise, and EU and NATO tutelage coming under strain. As Western organizations struggle to regain credibility and integrate Bosnia as a full member, local actors are exploiting the limbo for their own political benefit.

BiH is also part of an “arc of instability” that cuts through Eastern and Southeast Europe and whose challenges are now becoming more acute in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but where the high-level policy attention needed to resolve them is absent. Day in, day out, Moscow obstructs Western policy through a long-standing alliance with the leadership of Republika Srpska (RS), one of BiH’s constituent parts along with the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) and Croat-dominated Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH). As it resists EU and U.S. pressure to comply with the provisions of the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnia war in 1995, RS has built an alliance of like-minded actors that includes not just Russia but also the leaders of Serbia and Hungary. In this constellation, Russian President Vladimir Putin is probably not as consequential as Aleksandar Vučić or Viktor Orbán, who have more skin in the game and have actually backed RS leader Milorad Dodik materially. At the same time, the Kremlin’s disruptive agenda is paying off for Moscow because Bosnia’s integration into NATO and the EU has been slow, and Western policy inefficient. While Moscow has dallied with supporting paramilitary and extreme nationalist groups in the region, it has—so far at least—shied away from steps that could tip BiH back toward a resumption of large-scale intercommunal violence.

Last March, EU leaders decided to open accession talks with the Balkan country, and BiH may join the twenty-seven-strong bloc in the 2030s. The EU is by far Bosnia’s leading economic partner, and members including Germany, Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia are home to large diaspora communities. (Russia, in comparison, accounts for only 2 percent of imports). Since the 2004 launch of the EUFOR Althea mission, the EU has been in charge of peacekeeping in the country, which was ravaged by war in the early 1990s. A German official, Christian Schmidt, heads the Office of the High Representative (OHR), the body mandated by the international community to oversee the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace accords.

Russia has doubled down on links with RS and lavished the Bosnian Serb leadership with high level attention during frequent visits to Moscow. On June 6, Dodik met with Putin yet again at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Back in March, the speaker of the entity’s National Assembly, Nenad Stevandić, received a warm welcome from the Russian parliament too. Dodik has been looking to Moscow for funding, as well as political support in his standoff with the OHR and central state institutions driven by RS secessionist aspirations. On June 11, Russia opened a diplomatic office in Banja Luka, the Serb entity’s capital. The Russian government-controlled media outlet RT may follow suit.

The ostensibly cordial relationship between Dodik and Putin points at Russia’s influence but also some of the paradoxes and contradictions characterizing Moscow’s policy. Despite its loud rhetoric, the Kremlin has not poured significant financial resources into RS. Instead, it has been stirring the Bosnian pot the best it can on the cheap, through propaganda, all manner of political fireworks, and support for radical Serb nationalist groups. In fact, other actors such as Hungary’s Orbán have done more for Dodik in terms of blocking EU sanctions or bringing in investment. However, Russia’s widely publicized actions in support of RS secessionism have the benefit of distracting the United States and its European allies from more pressing matters like the war in Ukraine and keeping them off-balance.1

Overall, Russia is able to act as a spoiler in BiH politics and to obstruct its halting movement toward NATO and EU integration. Favorable conditions in the region allow the Kremlin to play an outsized role in Balkan politics on a cost-effective basis. Neither the EU nor the United States has shown much ability to generate the kind of leverage that would be necessary to force Moscow to play its game in the Balkans differently.

The Russia Connection

Russia’s involvement in Bosnia goes back decades, long before the outbreak of the Ukraine war or even Putin’s coming to power.

Though much weaker in the early 1990s, post-Soviet Russia played an active part in the Yugoslav wars and especially in the 1992–95 Bosnia conflict. While the Boris Yeltsin administration pursued a delicate balance between supporting Bosnian Serbs and working with the West through the UN Security Council, Russian nationalists fought in the ranks of the RS army. One such figure was Igor Girkin, known by his nom de guerre Strelkov (Shooter), the early leader of the so-called “Russian Spring” in Ukraine’s Donbas region in 2014.2

Although the Bosnia war highlighted Russia’s diminished status in European and global politics and the newly established U.S. primacy, Moscow scored certain gains. These included the establishment of the Contact Group composed of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy: a format consistent with the Russian vision of a compact of great powers managing security affairs in Europe. The Dayton settlement resulted in the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping contingent, extended in 1999 to Kosovo, and a seat at the Peace Implementation Council (PIC) overseeing the OHR.

Russia’s interest in BiH diminished in the 2000s with Putin’s decision to withdraw peacekeepers from the then NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) operation in 2003. In the meantime, an OHR push to strengthen central state institutions in order to consolidate the peace and prepare Bosnia for membership in NATO and especially the EU gained momentum. Notably, RS and FBiH were able to establish joint armed forces and tax authority, key attributes of functioning statehood. Russia largely remained a bystander, with its presence felt most strongly in the economy, thanks to its monopoly in natural gas supplies and the 2007 privatization of the oil refinery at the town of Brod in RS.

By the end of the decade, however, Moscow had assumed a more assertive political position thanks to its alignment with Serbia, the Bosnian Serbs’ kin state across the Drina River. Russia’s pushback against Kosovo’s independence had repercussions in RS too, along with its expanded footprint in the Serbian economy following Gazpromneft’s acquisition of the national oil company Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS) in 2008.

As the relationship between Russia and the West grew more confrontational in the 2010s, particularly in the wake of Crimea’s annexation, Moscow embarked on a policy of seeking to undermine the EU and NATO in the Western Balkans, yet another theater of competition. Key to Russian strategy was—and still is—the exploitation of grievances dating back to Yugoslav disintegration. Thus, in 2015, Russia blocked a draft UN Security Council resolution marking the twentieth anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica.

Moscow consolidated its partnership with Serbia in a variety of ways: through a military cooperation agreement, high-profile visits such as Putin’s trip to Belgrade in October 2014, and economic projects like the South Stream and subsequently the TurkStream gas pipeline. Last but not least, in the mid-2010s, the Russian state or actors close to it provided material support to hardline nationalist groups in Montenegro, North Macedonia, and even Serbia campaigning against membership in or—in Serbia’s case—close cooperation with NATO and the United States. Operatives associated with the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence, were implicated in a failed coup attempt in Montenegro on the eve of the country’s elections in 2016.3 A network of Serb nationalists cooperating with the GRU had links to Russian religious-conservative oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, the early backer of the “Russian Spring” in the Donbas who reportedly also enjoyed links to the RS leadership.4

RS has been a crucial element of Russia’s policy covering the entire “Serbosphere” in former Yugoslavia (or “Srpski Svet”—Serbian world, a concept inspired by that of a “Russian world” or Ruskii Mir). From 2011, Dodik started threatening the Western overseers of the Dayton peace framework with an independence referendum in the Serb entity. In September 2016, he won a plebiscite to declare January 9—the date Bosnian Serbs established their “state” in Bosnia back in 1992—the “Day of RS.”5 The move, struck down by the BiH Constitutional Court as violating the basic law, was a dry run for a full-blown secession vote.

While the United States and EU condemned the referendum, Russia came out in full support of it. Dodik met Putin ahead of the vote. “Our position is very clear,” ambassador Pyotr Ivantsov said at the time. “We believe the people of Republika Srpska have the right to take a stance on vital issues.” Although Dodik did not take the next step of a vote on seceding—and has still not crossed this Rubicon—Moscow had his back, arguably to a greater degree than Belgrade.

Russia’s support for Dodik’s brinkmanship in the mid-2010s set a pattern that has been in play ever since. Dodik sets out to wrest out or even extort more power from Sarajevo. He comes to blows with the West. The OHR, EU and the United States lash out at Banja Luka. Russia sides with the embattled Bosnian Serb leader, who ultimately steps back from the brink. Thus, in early 2022, following talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Dodik put on hold plans to withdraw from BiH state institutions: a move that had been described by High Representative Christian Schmidt as an “existential threat.” Dodik cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in justifying his U-turn, arguing that it would make separation more difficult. Yet despite such tactical retreats, Dodik succeeds in grabbing more power: an indirect win for Russia as his ally in the standoff with the West. Notably, Moscow supports Dodik’s actions but never criticizes him when he climbs down under Western pressure.

Political Links

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine has once again laid bare the close ties between the Bosnian Serb leadership and Russia.

In contrast to the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat leaders, Dodik argued that BiH should stay neutral in the war. However, as the fighting progressed, he opted for open support for Putin’s “special military operation.” Visiting Moscow in September 2022, the Serb leader argued that Russia was defending its co-ethnics, saying: “For many years, the West did not react to the extermination of the Russian population in Ukraine, there were daily murders and bombings in Donbas.” Dodik pledged that BiH would not align with Western sanctions. On January 9, 2023 (RS Day), he awarded Putin the entity’s highest medal for “his patriotic concern and love for Republika Srpska.” (In 2024, the same medal went to Viktor Orbán.) The move drew heavy criticism from both the EU and United States. Dodik’s behavior goes beyond that of Serbia, which has similarly refused to cut political and economic ties to Moscow, yet steered clear of more provocative actions vis-à-vis the West.

Dodik has worked hard to build a personal relationship with Putin. The two held talks in September 2022 (ahead of the Bosnian elections), their seventh summit since 2014. That was followed by visits in May 2023 and February 2024. In effect, Dodik, one of the few leaders in Europe willing to meet Putin, has been taking advantage of Russia’s relative isolation by the West in the aftermath of the invasion.

This increasingly frequent contact with the Russian leadership has yielded three main benefits.

Firstly, being Moscow’s man in Banja Luka gives Dodik an edge over the opposition. In 2020, the twenty-seven-year-old activist and politician Draško Stanivuković won the mayorship of RS’s capital city, defeating Igor Radojičić from Dodik’s Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD). Stanivuković’s campaign focused on corruption and nepotism, but instrumentalized Serb nationalism, marshalling support from both Belgrade and, to an extent, the West. However, the opposition challenge against Dodik did not succeed in dislodging him or SNSD at the general elections in 2022. External legitimation by Russia is surely not the only factor accounting for Dodik’s resilience, but it counts for something. It allows the Serb leader to portray himself as a statesman with global standing, as well as to promise voters economic benefits derived from cooperating with Russia, such as cheap gas (see below).

Dodik’s overtures to Moscow resonate with the public. Overall, Bosnian Serbs see Russia, a predominantly Slavic Orthodox country, as an important international patron. According to an International Republican Institute (IRI) survey from 2024, 94 percent of Serbs in Bosnia have a favorable view of Russia, compared with only 13 percent of Bosniaks and 18 percent of Bosnian Croats. The same survey found that 65 percent of Bosnian Serbs believe that either the West or Ukraine are responsible for the war in the latter country, while only 5 percent blame Russia.6 According to a National Democratic Institute (NDI) poll from 2021, 82 percent of Bosnian Serbs (mostly living in RS) are against NATO membership, while 90 percent of Bosniaks and 92 percent of Bosnian Croats are in favor.7

Secondly, Russia has stood by Dodik’s side in the ongoing conflict with the OHR. In the summer of 2023, things came to a head when the RS president signed into law a controversial bill banning the entity’s official gazette from publishing OHR acts, the implication being that they are not in force. The entity assembly furthermore voted to suspend recognition of the BiH Constitutional Court’s rulings, the highest judicial authority in the land. Dodik threatened to block Schmidt from entering RS, triggering condemnation from the so-called Quint (the United States, UK, Germany, France, and Italy). The United States and UK imposed sanctions against RS officials: Nenad Stevandić, president of the National Assembly; Prime Minister Radovan Višković; Justice Minister Miloš Bukejlović; and Željka Cvijanović, the Serb member of the BiH presidency.

These measures, which followed sanctions against Dodik introduced in 2017, 2023, and most recently on June 18, 2024, have started to bite. Banks have frozen the accounts of blacklisted politicians. RS has faced further fiscal pressure, with Germany canceling funding for two infrastructure projects. Finally, in December 2023, the Serb leader was put on trial for violating BiH’s constitutional order. Understandably, Dodik has used the opportunity to grandstand and rally Serb nationalist opinion behind the flag. He has furthermore pressed ahead with legislation on setting up a separate electoral authority in RS.

Meeting with Putin is an act of defiance against the West. Russia’s long-standing position is that the OHR has lost legitimacy and should be abolished, a view in line with Dodik’s. Moscow opposes the so-called Bonn Powers that allow the international envoy to enact emergency legislation and sack elected officials. In April 2022, following the full-scale invasion, Russia suspended its already meager funding for the OHR. It has also withdrawn from the PIC. In the old days, Russian diplomats always insisted on the integrity of BiH and the Dayton settlement, but now that talking point has been largely dropped.

Third (and related to the above), Dodik has been hopeful that Russia can provide financial support to the Serb entity. Analysts and civil society in Banja Luka are convinced that the Serb leader’s recurrent meetings with Putin have been largely about that issue.8 Yet money has not been forthcoming from Moscow. In comparison, RS received 140 million euros from Hungary following a private visit by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in 2021. In April 2024, the Hungarian leader went on an official visit to Banja Luka and pledged a further 100 million euro loan to the RS government. Even more importantly, Orbán has blocked the EU from putting Dodik and his associates under similar bans and asset freezes to those the United States and UK have imposed. Hungary’s position has also provided cover for other EU members—Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia are frequently mentioned—that prefer engagement over wielding a financial stick.

Most importantly, Dodik’s historically uneasy relations with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić appear to have improved. Voters from RS took part in controversial local elections in Belgrade last December. That same evening, Dodik took to the stage with Vučić to celebrate the Serbian ruling party’s victory in parliamentary and municipal polls. Vučić returned the gesture by dispatching former prime minister and current parliament speaker Ana Brnabić to the Srpska Is Calling You (Srpska te zove) rally in Banja Luka on April 18, 2024. The gathering, attended by Serbia residents too, was formally an act of defiance against the pending UN General Assembly resolution to recognize the 1995 Srebrenica massacre as an act of genocide, but it was also a show of support for Dodik in his fight with the OHR and Sarajevo authorities.

In a nutshell, while Russia tries to present itself as the principal external patron of RS, in reality the latter has diversified its international alliances by bringing in EU member states and Serbia. At the same time, the link to Putin and the support Dodik receives in his standoff with the OHR and the West are essential for maintaining his leading position in Bosnian Serb politics. Being the Balkan politician of choice for the Kremlin furthermore empowers him to claim the mantle of a potential leader of all Serbs throughout the Balkans. That includes those in Montenegro and in northern Kosovo, as well as radical nationalists in Serbia itself who are critical of Vučić’s involvement in EU-supported dialogue with Pristina aimed at a final settlement of the dispute.

Russia has also opened channels to the Bosnian Croats. In March 2022, deputies from the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the principal Croat force and a sister party of the HDZ governing Croatia, voted against joining the EU sanctions against Russia in the upper chamber of the BiH state-level parliament.9 Among the naysayers was Dragan Čović, the HDZ leader. The U.S. embassy and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have criticized Čović for blocking an interconnector pipeline project with Croatia that could help Bosnia diversify supplies away from Russia. In fact, his opposition had more to do with business interests than with currying favor with Moscow, but Čović has a history of cooperating with the Russians. In 2019, Ambassador Pyotr Ivantsov backed the Croats’ call for an overhaul of electoral rules. Bosniak analysts have argued that Russia would be amenable to the creation of a third, Croat-dominated entity. Čović has been cozying up to both Dodik and Vučić, Russia’s main Balkan partners. At the same time, BiH Prime Minister Borjana Krišto of the HDZ has worked to secure the start of EU accession talks. HDZ is, at least on paper, supportive of NATO membership as well.

Security Domain

Russia’s disruptive influence in BiH and the Western Balkans more broadly is at its most pronounced in the security domain.

Government-affiliated or supported media in Banja Luka and Belgrade TV stations and tabloids routinely praise the official policy of engaging with Moscow as well as other non-Western powers such as China. They often celebrate Russian victories in Ukraine, while coverage of the United States is mostly negative. The EU is typically presented in neutral terms. The image that emerges is of a region on the brink of new conflict, with Russia supporting Serbs’ rightful claims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and elsewhere. That atmosphere of nationalist fervor enables Dodik and other nationalist politicians in BiH and beyond not only to drum up domestic support, but also to manipulate external perceptions in their favor. So long as there is no hot war but only controlled instability, ethno-entrepreneurs are not at risk of facing robust punitive measures by the West—the EU in particular.

Russia has supported the remilitarization of RS, providing training to the entity’s police force. That has stoked fears of the Serb entity building its own armed force, parallel to BiH’s integrated military.10 Each January 9, police parade in Banja Luka on the controversial RS National Day. In 2023, they were reportedly joined by mercenaries from Russia’s infamous Wagner Group. In addition, RS has backed ultranationalist groups such as the Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement that have paramilitary offshoots.

At the same time, BiH has taken steps to integrate into NATO. It was invited to join NATO’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) as far back as 2010, but it was not until 2019 that the country presented a reform plan covering the security sector. Progress was only made possible because Dodik silently dropped his opposition.11 Support for joining NATO currently stands at 50 percent, with another 13 percent in favor of closer cooperation without membership.12

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 brought the issue of security back into the spotlight. In March 2022, the Russian ambassador Igor Kalabukhov, speaking to the FBiH public broadcaster, issued a warning against Bosnia joining NATO. He hinted that Moscow was prepared to escalate if need be. It was partly because of fears that war could return to Bosnia and the wider region that the EU doubled its peacekeeping deployment in the spring of 2022, within days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The EUFOR mission has received reinforcements from a number of nations, most recently France, which sent an additional 250 troops. The contingent currently numbers around 1,600 troops but is backed by NATO forces stationed outside Bosnia. This should provide a sufficient deterrent to any direct challenge to the status quo.

At the same time, EUFOR may struggle to prevent a localized, small-scale outbreak of violence. It has also made it clear that it will not enforce OHR decisions in RS against the entity’s authorities. For their part, neither Dodik nor Russia are opposed to the peacekeeping mission. Moscow has not exercised its veto at the UN Security Council when EUFOR is up for renewal. Dodik publicly praised it right after meeting Nikolai Patrushev, then secretary of the Russian Security Council, in St. Petersburg on April 23.

Despite Dodik’s strong rhetorical opposition, Bosnia formally joined the EU sanctions against Russia. That was done in June 2022 through a decision of the BiH Mission to the EU in Brussels, rather than a formal government decision. As a result, the sanctions remain largely unimplemented, but given Bosnia’s distance from Russia and the limited trading relationship, the EU has chosen to look the other way. Compliance with the sanctions regime was an argument for promoting BiH to EU candidate status in December 2022 and giving the green light to membership talks in 2024. At the same time, the Foreign Ministry has faced criticism for accepting Russian diplomats expelled from other European countries.

The Economy

Russia’s footprint in the Bosnian economy is relatively limited. However, Russian players have cultivated links with local elites.

According to an estimate from 2022, Russia accounts for only 4 percent of FDI coming into the country. In RS, paradoxically, the share is even lower: 1.5 percent. A mere 2 percent of all BiH imports come from Russia, courtesy of the fact that the annual consumption of natural gas is under 0.5 billion cubic metres (bcm).13 Deliveries may increase if Serbia’s state-owned utility Srbijagas and Gas-Res (RS) complete an interconnector linking Banja Luka to the Serbian grid. Currently, Russian gas goes primarily to Sarajevo, mainly to the capital’s district heating plant. FBiH has been looking at building a “south connection,” a pipeline running to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Croatian island of Krk.

After years of financial losses, the Russian-owned oil refinery at Brod has not been operational since an incident in 2018. Plans for its overhaul and reopening in the mid-2020s may be delayed. Meanwhile, Russian crude oil has been barred from the Adria pipeline because of EU sanctions. Gazprom NIS operates a network of petrol stations across BiH.

Billionaire Rashid Sardarov has been the most prominent Russian business actor in RS. The Cyprus-based Comsar Energy he controls was involved in expanding the thermal power plant at Ugljevik and in building a hydropower plant. However, Ugljevik 3 failed to receive Chinese funding and triggered a conflict with the EU, being at odds with Bosnia’s commitment under the Energy Community Treaty. In 2022, the RS government took over the project as well as the Mrsovo hydropower station, paying Comsar a reported 90 million euros. The transfer of property has spurred rumors of kickbacks, but also put on display the close ties between Dodik and Sardarov.


Bosnia is firmly in the Western sphere of influence, but Russia has carved out a niche in the country’s politics. Without committing any substantial resources, Moscow is making the most of its connections to the Bosnian Serb leadership and, to a much lesser degree, that of the Bosnian Croats. The state’s weakness and entrenched divisions in the country have hampered EU and U.S. efforts to build functional institutions and integrate Bosnia into Western clubs. Dysfunctionality in turn provides fertile ground for foreign meddling, not only by Russia, but by other external actors such as BiH’s neighbors too. Moscow’s main goal is to freeze the status quo and make sure Bosnia remains in limbo. To achieve that, it does not have to do much beyond stoking tensions through strong rhetoric. Although Russia has been less than generous in providing financial aid to RS and has not even followed up on the promise to set up a branch of RT, it appears to have won the battle for the hearts and minds of Bosnian Serbs. Dodik has capitalized on those emotional bonds in order to retain power in Banja Luka and face off challengers exposing high-level corruption. His link to Putin has become as central to his brand as the recurrent squabbles with the OHR and Western powers.

The EU and the United States do not appear to have a working strategy to roll back Russian influence. Strengthening the security presence through EUFOR has not deterred Dodik from engaging in brinkmanship. The opening of EU membership negotiations, as welcome a step as it is, will not be a panacea in terms of resolving internal tensions and reducing Russia’s clout. The near permanent constitutional crisis that grips BiH will provide Moscow with sufficient opportunities to interfere. The only positive scenario for a country like Bosnia is if the EU integration of the region as a whole—including Serbia—picks up momentum. Despite the impetus provided by the war in Ukraine, the chances for such a development remain limited.


  • 1“Treasury Targets Republika Srpska Officials for Activity Undermining the Dayton Peace Agreement,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 13, 2024, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2175.

  • 2Srdja Pavlović, “Commander Strelkov’s Bosnian Connection,” Open Democracy, August 5, 2014, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/commander-strelkovs-bosnian-connection/.

  • 3“Second GRU Officer Indicted in Montenegro Coup Unmasked,” Bellingcat, November 22, 2018, https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/11/22/second-gru-officer-indicted-montenegro-coup-unmasked/.

  • 4Christo Grozev, “The Kremlin’s Balkan Gambit: Part I,” Bellingcat, March 4, 2017, https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2017/03/04/kremlins-balkan-gambit-part/.

  • 5On January 9, 1992, Bosnian Serbs declared the establishment of RS, a rival of BiH which declared independence from Yugoslavia following a referendum in February–March that same year.

  • 6Fifty-two percent of Bosniaks hold Russia responsible. Croats are split, with 32 percent blaming Russia and 26 percent seeing Ukraine or the West as the culprits. “Western Balkans Regional Poll, February–March 2024,” International Republican Institute, May 14, 2024, https://www.iri.org/resources/western-balkans-regional-poll-february-march-2024-full/.

  • 7“Bosnia and Herzegovina Poll,” National Democratic Institute, May 13, 2022, https://www.ndi.org/publications/bosnia-and-herzegovina-poll.

  • 8Conversations in Banja Luka, April 17, 2024.

  • 9Majda Ruge, “The Past and the Furious: How Russia’s Revisionism Threatens Bosnia,” European Council on Foreign Relations, September 13, 2022, https://www.rferl.org/a/bosnia-orban-award-visit-dodik-separatist-serb-eu-presidency/32892320.html.

  • 10Paul Stronski and Annie Himes, “Russia’s Game in the Balkans,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, February 6, 2019, https://carnegieendowment.org/research/2019/02/russias-game-in-the-balkans?lang=en.

  • 11Hamza Karčić, “Why Biden Should Fast-Track Bosnia’s NATO Accession,” Royal United Services Institute, May 24, 2021, https://www.rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/why-biden-should-fast-track-bosnias-nato-accession.

  • 12“Western Balkans Regional Poll.”

  • 13Ruge, “The Past and the Furious.”