Russia in the Balkans: How should the EU respond?

12 October 2015
Dimitar Bechev (Director, European Policy Institute, Sofia; Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council)

It is no secret that Russia and the Balkan countries have deep-running historical ties. Pared with recent developments, such as the stepped-up military collaboration between Russia and some Western Balkan countries and Russian energy firms’ near-monopoly in Serbia, Bulgaria and Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS), it has led some senior politicians in the West, both in the EU and the US, to believe the Balkans are being “infiltrated” by Moscow. However, Dimitar Bechev (EPC Academic Fellow and Director of the European Policy Institute in Sofia) argues that, although Russia’s political and economic presence in the region is higher than at any time since the Cold War, it is being given too much credit. In this Policy Brief, Bechev takes a closer look at Russia’s policies in the Balkans, advises not to overstate, but also not to underestimate, Moscow’s influence, and gives concrete policy recommendations on how to deal with the challenge Russia poses in the region.

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