In the 90’s, Serbia wanted to create “Greater Serbia” by exterminating Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians through genocide and ethnic cleansing, Russia is doing the same today in Ukraine.
This is what the political scientist and journalist from Vojvodina, Boris Varga, tells The Geopost, adding that the Ukrainian capital could be Sarajevo, while Mariupol has become like Vukovar, where Butcha and Irpin are Gjakova and Racak.
“There is a great similarity between Serbia and Russia. In both countries, for three decades, the idea of a big state prevails, which aims to deny the existence of neighboring countries, as well as the peoples in them”, says Varga.
“In the 1990s, Serbia wanted to create a “Greater Serbia” by exterminating Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians through genocide and ethnic cleansing. Russia is doing the same in Ukraine today. Kyiv could be Sarajevo. Mariupol is Vukovar, where Butcha and Irpin are Gjakova and Racak”, he adds.
According to him, the war being waged by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine could be fatal for Russia.
“Although the difference is that Russia is a nuclear power, the two major defeats of Vladimir Putin’s army show that the war in Ukraine can end fatally for Russia, as it happened for Serbia in the territory of the former Yugoslavia,” he emphasizes.
Varga points out that the similarity between Ukraine and Kosovo is that the latter was liberated with the mediation of the USA.
“The similarity between Kosovo and Ukraine is that they were freed from Western intervention, especially from the involvement of the USA”, says Varga.
Also, he says that Brussels’ reluctance to integrate Montenegro could expose Podgorica to greater influence from Moscow and Belgrade.
“Brussels’ hesitation regarding the integration of Montenegro in the EU could expose Podgorica to greater influence from Moscow and Belgrade. Montenegrin governments will be unstable and will pass from the hands of pro-Western and pro-independence forces to the hands of pro-Serbian and Russophile forces,” he says.
“Russia intervened twice in Montenegro: in 2016, when riots were planned, and in 2020, when a comprehensive change of government was carried out with the help of the ‘Lithium Revolution,'” concludes Varga.
In this interview, political scientist and journalist Varga also spoke about the influence of the Russian media in the Balkans and the latest developments regarding Russian military aggression in Ukraine.
The Geopost: How do you comment on the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Russia attacked Ukraine to destroy it as a state and to annex parts of its territories within the Russian Federation. The Russian military aggression is followed by the genocide against the Ukrainian people, which Vladimir Putin and his technologists announced in their speeches and program texts..
Of all the objectives announced by the Kremlin, not a single one has been achieved so far. The initial blitzkrieg plan and quick occupation of Kyiv failed. Plan “B” of Russian penetration from the south and east took place during the summer.
Currently, a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian armed forces in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions is underway, which was made possible by weapons, training and information support from the West. In two weeks, the Ukrainian armed forces have liberated more territory than the Russians have captured in all their operations since April.
The counteroffensive was prepared with Western allies, especially the US, and according to their estimates, is moving faster than planned. The breakthrough in the Kharkiv region is Russia’s second major defeat, following the defeat in Kyiv in March. The Internet is full of video messages in which the Russian army leaves behind weapons, military equipment, ammunition and flees from the front in a comical way.
Ukrainian armed forces have been destroying Russian logistics, ammunition depots and command bases for several weeks. In the south and in Crimea, diversions are destroying Russia’s military potential, and the Ukrainian partisan movement is active in the occupied territories. A total military defeat of Russia in Ukraine is already quite conceivable.
The Geopost: The Ukrainian crisis and Russian influence in the Balkans, how does it affect us?
There is a great similarity between Serbia and Russia. In both countries, for three decades, the idea of a big state prevails, which aims to deny the existence of neighboring countries, as well as the peoples in them.
In the 1990s, Serbia wanted to create a “Greater Serbia” by exterminating Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians through genocide and ethnic cleansing. Russia is doing the same in Ukraine today. Kyiv could be Sarajevo. Mariupol is Vukovar, where Butcha and Irpin are Gjakova and Racak.
Although the difference is that Russia is a nuclear power, the two major defeats of Vladimir Putin’s army show that the war in Ukraine could end fatally for Russia, as it did for Serbia in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
The similarity between Kosovo and Ukraine is that they were freed from Western intervention, especially US involvement.
Brussels’ reluctance to integrate Montenegro into the EU could expose Podgorica to greater influence from Moscow and Belgrade. Montenegrin governments will be unstable and will pass from pro-Western and pro-independence forces to pro-Serb and Russophile forces.
Russia intervened twice in Montenegro: in 2016, when riots were planned, and in 2020, when a comprehensive change of government was carried out with the help of the “lithium revolution”.
The Geopost: How is Russian influence spreading in the media in the Balkans, especially in Serbia?
After all the horrors of more than 200 days of Russian aggression against Ukraine, it is clear that Putin has been preparing for this kind of war since the “Maidan Revolution” in 2014. The “Greater Serbia” project, defeated in the NATO bombing, was the Kremlin’s ideal partner for the “second hybrid front ” in Europe.
Since the coming to power of the Serbian Progressive Party and Aleksandar Vucic, the idea of ”Greater Serbia” as “Serbian World” has been renewed, modeled after a similar idea in Russia called “Russian World”, which, together with Eurasian imperialism, used as an ideology by Vladimir Putin.
“Serbian World” is a political euphemism for “Greater Serbia”, which followed NATO’s intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999.
The media in Serbia are more responsible for creating the idea of a “Greater Serbia”, but also of a “Serbian World”. All under the pretext of the danger to the Serbian people in the neighboring republics at the end of the 1980s, the media prepared the opinion about the most serious crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo”, he emphasizes. Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians were dehumanized so that after peace and prosperity in Yugoslavia, all these mass crimes were possible.
During the 2000s, in Serbia there was no confrontation with the past, polishing and responsibility of those who created a new reality in the media and incited the Serbian people to wars. Kosovo’s independence was the reason for the return of Serbia’s nationalist and expansionist policy in the region and Belgrade’s return to Russia.
So the state-controlled media, namely state public services and tabloids, were once again tasked with bringing the ideology of the 90s back into public discourse. In this, Russia also takes an active part, which through “soft power” invests a lot in propaganda and media influence.
Just as the EU decided to abolish Russian state and propaganda channels on its territory, so the West should demand the abolition of the Russian war-mongering media in the Balkans and insist on free media, especially in Serbia.
The Geopost: Does Serbia use Russia to influence the problems with Kosovo and how?
Kosovo is the anchor of the Russian presence in the Western Balkans, Serbia is a reliable ally. Russia skillfully uses “frozen conflicts” to control former Soviet allies and define the boundaries of its geopolitical interests from Transnistria to Moldova, through Crimea and Donbass in Ukraine, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, to the Fergana Valley in Central Asia.
According to this model, Russia is trying to influence the Balkans through the unresolved issues in BiH and Kosovo. Since there are no more “separatist republics” in Croatia, Russia today encourages ethnic Serb separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina through Republika Srpska and in Kosovo through territories in the north of the country.
We recall that in 1999, immediately after NATO’s intervention, Russian peacekeepers tried to occupy Slatina Airport in Pristina, to enable the division of Kosovo into the Russian and Western parts. Fortunately, that operation failed. Russia is working so that countries do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state and block Kosovo’s entry into international organizations.
As the “Serbian world” was awakened by Russia’s military rise, it will be defeated in the Western Balkans by Putin’s military defeat in Ukraine. It will be the second great defeat of “Greater Serbia”, this time without weapons. However, pro-Russian extremist organizations in Serbia, BiH and Kosovo could become a potential problem of destabilization and local conflicts. /The Geopost/