Those fears flared last week when an esoteric dispute over license plates between Serbia, which is bound to Russia by history, religion and deep hostility toward NATO, and the formerly Serbian province of Kosovo led to unruly protests, roadblocks and gunfire — setting off alarm bells in the Atlantic alliance.
The unrest in Kosovo, and strains in nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina caused by Milorad Dodik, the belligerent, Moscow-backed leader of the ethnic Serb enclave there, and by hard-line Croat nationalists have led to warnings that Russia is trying to stoke tensions, stilled but never really resolved, from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
“Russia calculates that the more time the West spends sweating in the Balkans, the less time it will spend sweating in Russia’s backyard,” said Vuk Vuksanovic, a researcher at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy.
“But there are limits on what Russia can do,” Mr. Vuksanovic added.
“It needs local elites and these don’t want to be sacrificed for Russian interests.”
Milorad Dodik, ”, Vuk Vuksanovic, Mr, Vuksanovic
NATO, “, Belgrade Center for Security
Serbia, Russia, Serbian, Kosovo, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Moscow, stoke, “ Russia, Balkans