The US sanctioned the head of Serbian intelligence for acting to the “detriment of peace” in the Balkans

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin walks as the military sets up beds inside the Novi Sad Fair to accommodate people suffering from mild symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Novi Sad, Serbia, on 27 March 2020. REUTERS/Marko Djurica (MARKO DJURICA/)

The United States sanctioned on Tuesday the head of Serbia’s intelligence services, Alexander Vulinconsidering that he has participated in “corrupt and destabilizing” activities that undermine the rule of law in the Western Balkans.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Millernoted in a statement that Vulin has been implicated in transnational organized crime, illegal narcotics operations and a misuse of public service.

According to his data, he used his political position to generate public support for Russia’s “malign activities” in Serbia and the region, while promoting ethnonationalist narratives that fuel instability in the area.

Besides, believed to have had a mutually beneficial relationship with Serbian national Slobodan Tesica US-sanctioned arms dealer.

“We will continue to hold accountable those who promote their political agenda and personal gain at the expense of peace and stability in the Western Balkans. We support the Serbian people in their work to reform their judicial system, root out corruption and build a prosperous future,” said Miller.

As a result of the sanctions, Vulin’s properties and assets on US soil are blocked, and Americans are prohibited from doing business with him.

The Serbian secessionist threat shoots

The secessionist threat that milorad dodikleader of the Bosnian Serbs, has led for years against that country that emerged from the civil war of three decades ago, has weakened its institutions and raised ethnic tension.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of two autonomous entities – the Serbian Republic and the Joint Federation of Muslims and Croats – but it also has central institutions, according to the Dayton Peace Agreement that in 1995 ended three and a half years of war.

Dodik’s latest initiative to separate the Serbian entity from the central institutions was to veto by law, last week, the decisions of the Bosnian Constitutional Court.

The international high representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, used his extensive powers to annul that law by “directly violate the Bosnian constitutional order and the Dayton Peace Agreement”.

He also imposed an amendment to the Penal Code to criminalize attempts to ignore the Constitution and the decisions of the high representative.

The defiant Dodik, openly pro-Russian and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, rejected the decisions and threatened more steps to prevent the functioning of central institutions in the Bosnian Serb entity and even an independence referendum.

Dodik does not recognize the legitimacy of Schmidt, whose appointment was not confirmed in the UN Security Council due to a lack of support from Russia and China.

In this file photo, U.S. soldiers with the Kosovo peacekeeping mission guard a municipal building in the northern town of Leposavic on May 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Marjan Vucetic, File )
In this file photo, U.S. soldiers with the Kosovo peacekeeping mission guard a municipal building in the northern town of Leposavic on May 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Marjan Vucetic, File ) (Marjan Vucetic/)

years of threats

Dodik has been threatening for a decade to abolish the Bosnian Constitution if the three foreign magistrates who make up the court along with two Bosnian Serb judges and four from the Muslim-Croat body are not removed.

His recent veto the High Court came after it decided to make decisions without the presence of the Bosnian Serb judgesone retired and the other about to retire, with no plans to replace them, which blocks the operation of the institution.

Dodik assures that this decision favors what, he believes, is an attempt by Muslims to further centralize the country, to the detriment of Bosnian Serb autonomy.

Analyst Tanja Topic, from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, considers that for years “Dodik crossed red lines in the face of lukewarm reactions” from the West.

“The international community expressed its concern but, in reality, it has allowed Bosnia-Herzegovina, 30 years after the war, to find itself in the situation of raising the question of its survival,” Topic explained to Efe.

dodik’s future

“Dodik’s latest acts have been the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he says.

The tension had already increased in 2021 when Dodik announced that he would recover powers from the central power for the entity, including the army, the judiciary and the tax system.

Although the US and UK have sanctioned him for undermining Bosnian institutions, he has kept up his threats and secessionist gestures.

In public discourse, Dodik always refers to the Serbian Republic as a State and, in this way, has been creating an atmosphere of hostility among citizens towards the State of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the non-existence of that identification”Topic notes.

Schmidt warned that “all options are open”, which does not exclude a possible dismissal of the president of the Bosnian Serb entity.

But Topic considers that Schmidt “passed the hot potato” to the Prosecutor’s Office as a central institution to react in case of new violations of the laws.

According to the analyst, an eventual dismissal of Dodik would not cause major protests in the Bosnian Serb entity.


The possibility of organizing a Bosnian Serb independence referendum seems difficult, according to Topic.

Any referendum would be playing with fire again and would undoubtedly cause a new conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”, he indicated.

In the event of an escalation of tension, he noted that NATO peacekeepers would be deployed in the country in accordance with the Dayton agreement.

Last December, the European Union (EU) granted Bosnia-Herzegovina candidate membership status, but few steps have been taken to implement the necessary reforms in a country where nationalist politicians from the three peoples have not overcome their differences for decades. .

(With information from EFE)

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