Friday, 16 March 2018

Not just Skripal: we should all care about what Putin's up to elsewhere in Europe

Putin's passion for rearmament is well-known (he currently spends around double the proportion of GDP on defence that NATO members do). But so far, his targets have all been able to be dismissed, in Chamberlain's awful words of appeasement, as "faraway countries".

However, today there is a piece of news it could be easy to lose in all the Skripal fallout is this, and it's scary: according to Newsweek, the Putin regime is helping support a new military buildup by Serb separatists in Bosnia. In fact, the West's current focus on the Skripal case could just form a convenient piece of magician's misdirection away from bigger events.

For those of us old enough to remember Srebrenica and other massacres of ethnic Muslims in the 1990s, this could easily become a much worse bloodbath than that currently still taking place in Eastern Ukraine.

More importantly, whereas Eastern Ukraine is still a long way from EU borders (Ukraine itself is enormous), Bosnia is not. In fact, it's part of a mini-oasis of non-EU states, centred around the shores of the Adriatic and surrounded by EU (and various NATO) states.

What better way to cause chaos and fear in the member states of Putin's favourite hate-object, than to foment a new civil war? Which could also conveniently scupper Serbian accession to the EU? In a theatre at the heart of the EU project, but not actually part of it? Where everyone can witness the might of the new Russia at close quarters? A case of look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair?

Watch this space, but a renewed, Putin-sponsored war in the Balkans could make Ukraine look like a tea-party.

On the form of the last couple of days, not to mention his denial of genocide in Kosovo fourteen years ago, no doubt my party leader will be quick to denounce Serb/Russian aggression when it it happens.

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