Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Russia’s Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Kalabukhov, warned the country not to consider NATO membership, implying that any such move could represent a “threat” to BH.
Talking to the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity public broadcaster FTV, Kalabukhov stressed that Moscow would respond to any moves by Sarajevo to join the military alliance. “If BH decides to be a member of any alliance, that is an internal matter”, Kalabukhov intimated. However, Moscow’s “response is a different matter”, he said.
“Ukraine’s example shows what we expect. Should there be any threat, we will respond”, Kalabukhov declared, while noting that the issue is moot, insofar as there the country lacks any “consensus” on the issue and is unlikely to change its view easily.
The ambassador was referring to the Moscow-backed leader of the Serbian Republic of Srpska entity within BH, Milorad Dodik, who would vehemently oppose any NATO accession plans the country might make.
Dodik previously relied on pretences carefully orchestrated by Moscow to deny legitimacy to the new International High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, as well as his predecessor’s outlawing of genocide denial and the glorification of war criminals. Dodik himself refuses to refer to the 1995 Srebrenica genocide as such, and street names in the Republic of Srpska regularly pay homage to convicted war criminals.
Late on Thursday, the US embassy in Sarajevo declared that Kalabukhov’s statements were “dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable”, stressing that no third party can have a say in arrangements between NATO and sovereign countries. The US embassy also expressed its support to BH “as it takes the necessary steps to secure its place in the Euro-Atlantic integration.”