US imposes new sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader, calling him threat to Balkan “territorial integrity”

The US Treasury Department said on Wednesday it was imposing additional sanctions against Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and a media company he would control, Reuters reports.

A Treasury Department statement accused Dodik of “corrupt activities and persistent threats to the stability and territorial integrity” of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last month, the lower house of Republika Srpska passed a non-binding resolution that would dissociate the semi-autonomous republic from the fiscal, military and judicial system of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dodik, the Serbian member of the three-person interethnic presidency from Bosnia, supported the vote. He is in favor of removing the framework established by the Dayton Accords of 1995, which ended the war that devastated the country following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. “Bosnia is an experience … I don’t believe it can survive because it doesn’t have the internal capacity to survive,” Dodik said at the time.

Under Dayton, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a nation but is divided into two enclaves: the ethnically Serbian Republika Srpska and the Ethnically Croatian-Bosnian Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most government functions are vested in the semi-autonomous governments of these entities. The presidency of the nation must constitutionally be composed of a Serb, a Croat and a Bosnian.

Even before the December vote, Dodik’s rhetoric worried international observers.

“The [Bosnia and Herzegovina] the population is really afraid of another war, noticing the same worrying signs as in the 1990s, ”two left-wing Dutch MEPs in the European Parliament wrote in a November editorial.

MEPs concluded that unless Dodik and his supporters face “the realistic threat of targeted sanctions or some other form of serious international pullback, they will continue to escalate this crisis, which could eventually lead to secession,” thus risking violent conflict “.

Samuel Ramani, Associate Researcher at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, wrote on Twitter that the new US sanctions were a “sign of growing US assertiveness in Bosnia and a step back against [Russia’s] influence in the Balkans.

Ramani said The week that Dodik and Russian President Vladimir Putin have “a cordial personal relationship” and that Russia “has expressed concern about discrimination against Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

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