Balkans Monitor 1/12/2022

Vanessa Tinker

Tensions between Russia and the West in the Balkans date back to the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the wars that proceeded after. Given Russia’s geopolitical weakness at that time, it resorted to playing a balancing role in the region – supporting Serbian allies as well serving as the patron of the Orthodox Christian Slavs in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia. However, since 2000s, as Russia began to gain economic leverage, the country, particularly after Putin’s accession to power, has sought to reassert itself more aggressively in the region – to dismantle what it views as an unjust unipolar regional order founded by Western institutions and to counter what it perceives as a direct threat to its national security. Regional rivalry between Russia and the West has further been exasperated with the ensuing war in Ukraine.  This is turn has sparked concerns as to whether the Balkans will once again become the next geopolitical hotspot for crisis.