BFP Exclusive – Who is Trying to Destabilize the Balkans?

The US-NATO Empire is trying to shift the blame for the ensuing political & economic crises on the ultimate "fall country"- Russia

Though seemingly spontaneous, it is likely that the US Secretary of State John Kerry knew that several sentences he said during the hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on February 24, 2015 could create a storm of media controversy across the Balkan region. Although he said many things concerning this year's activities of the US foreign policy establishment during the nearly three-hour long session, these few sentences took the spotlight because they had to do with the Balkans and Russia.[1] In the Washington's resurgent warmongering political discourse, Russia is once again, after two decades, being presented to the American people as the enemy number one (the "evil empire").

In answering the question about the "growing Russian influence" in Europe posed by the Subcommittee's Chairman Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who, it appears, cannot wait to get the US into another war, Kerry claimed that this indeed was the case, and he specifically mentioned  "Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and others" [he also added Georgia, Moldova, and Pridnestrovie].[2] His answer was later echoed by the commentary of the junior Democratic Senator Christopher Murphy who stated that when he visited Serbia last Fall, he was amazed by the strength of the Russian presence there. Murphy seemed not to know anything about the long-running historical ties between these two countries and their peoples and claimed that the Russian presence is the result of the alleged "asymmetric warfare", which he defined in this way: "They [Russians] buy the media, pay off public servants, or intimidate those they cannot buy".[3]

I do not know what was going through Murphy's mind while he was formulating this sentence, but I have no doubt that he let the cat out of the (CIA) bag and gave away the game. This is precisely what the civilian and military officials of the US-NATO Empire have been doing, overtly and covertly, in the region, since the break-up of Yugoslavia, which was also planned and executed by them and their cronies on the ground.

In recent times, these practices have been well documented. I for instance wrote an article for BFP on the journalistic "psychological operation" that goes under the name of the Southeastern European Times, the supposedly impartial online newspaper which is funded by the institution known for its "impartiality", the US military's European Command (EUCOM).[4]

On the other hand, (so far) there have not been any projects similar in intent and scope by either the Russian state institutions or their spinoffs in the Balkans. It is possible that Murphy may have been purposefully misinformed by his Balkan interlocutors, the "Euro-Atlantic" vassal political elites, which tend to exaggerate the "Russian threat" in order to get more funding from the US and, also, to get the US to be more tolerant of their own corrupt, even criminal, behavior toward the ordinary citizens whom they supposedly "represent". However, it is also possible that Murphy is intentionally misrepresenting the facts on the ground because he has become a covert lobbyist for these elites and expects his efforts to be rewarded with certain favors in the future.

As to my own assessment of the present Russian influence, based both on my observations over the years as well as my direct experience in dealing with both the US and Russian diplomats, I will say that I have been surprised at how poorly Russians have played the PR game in the Balkans, especially taking into consideration that both the Soviet diplomacy as well as the Soviet intelligence networks had had, in certain operations, a great deal of success against their opponents.

Be that as it may, the most incendiary sentence of the Senate hearing had yet to come to pass, and it was articulated by Kerry precisely in response to Murphy's Russo-phobic confabulations. Namely, Kerry quite ominously remarked that those Balkan countries he mentioned are "in the firing line" between the US-NATO Empire and Russia.[5] This sentence became the headline news in the US-NATO affiliated Balkan media and was exploited to spread the fears of political instability. The intent was to put further pressure on those Balkan governments and citizens who do not believe that their countries' integration into the US-NATO Empire is a good idea.

The Destabilization Effort

The ironic thing is that the Balkan media editors found out about Kerry's and Murphy's statements through the report of RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency. It appears that this was the case in all the countries mentioned by Kerry - Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo (which is not recognized by the UN), and Macedonia (the official name of which is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). This explains why Kerry was being quoted as saying that these countries are "in the line of fire", whereas he said that they were on "the firing line", which in English has a slightly different and, I would say, an even more frightening connotation.[6]

This sentence was seized upon by the Balkan US-NATO supported and affiliated media (state-run and private, print and electronic) to make another strong push for the idea that all Balkan countries will be ultimately "invaded" by the Russians unless they quickly gave up any semblance of independence in their foreign policy and became the members of NATO.

In Montenegro, the media close to the US puppet regime of Milo Djukanović made the claim that Kerry's statement meant that the US would exert additional pressure on the European NATO member states to send the membership invitation to Montenegro by the end of this year.[7] The key emphasis was that, given the nature of the alleged Russian subversive undertakings, the invitation has now become inevitable. The editorial intent was to confuse and misinform the majority of the Montenegrin population which is opposed to NATO membership, and discourage the efforts of those who advocate the alternative: the military neutrality of Montenegro.

The Montenegrin private media, which is critical of Djukanović, but has built close links with certain US donors, foundations, NGOs, and government agencies, also joined the Russia-bashing campaign. The editors of the daily newspaper Vijesti, for instance, added a further twist in the story by quoting the US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth who stated, during the hearing of the House Armed Services Committee held the day after Kerry's hearing in the Senate, that Russia could "move on some countries which are not the members of NATO, such as for instance Montenegro, some of the smaller countries, and attempt to create instability, using some of the informational operations and techniques" allegedly used in Ukraine.[8] The headline of the Vijesti article "Putin wants to destabilize Montenegro", which appeared on the front page of the newspaper, said a great deal about both the manipulative intent and the sensationalist nature of this type of journalism. Once again, as in the media controlled by Djukanović, the idea was to confuse and misinform the public, and, what was even worse, to plant the poisonous seeds of US neoconservative Russo-phobia alien to the historical traditions of the country and its political culture.

In Serbia, the political context is different, because, unlike in Montenegro, the Serbian Parliament declared the status of military neutrality in December 2007.[9] This is why the US-NATO affiliated media in Serbia had to take a more roundabout approach. In other words, the editors and analysts claimed that the military neutrality of Serbia was no longer possible, that Serbia had no choice but to choose only one side, that this was a warning that had to be heeded, etc.[10] What was a bit surprising was that even the report of the Serbian National Television (RTS) seemed to go in the same direction.[11] This may have to do with the policies of the prime minister Aleksandar Vučić who has recently been warmly welcomed by several high-level US officials, including the US vice president Joe Biden at the February Munich Security Conference. Vučić is also a close political ally of Montenegro's Djukanović, who is a long-time US puppet.

At this time, there is a lot of media speculation that Vučić has hired the former UK prime minister Tony Blair to be one of his advisers, the fact that was received with disbelief among many citizens of Serbia, considering Blair's nefarious role in the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (of which Serbia and Montenegro were the two constitutive republics).[12] On February 19, 2015, the Russian-funded RT had an unusually critical news report about the Vučić-Blair cooperation, inviting as guest analysts two very sharp critics of Vučić.[13]

However, Vučić has publicly denied that Blair is his adviser and said that Blair recently visited Belgrade only in order to give a lecture to the government ministers. He did, however, admit that Serbia has found itself in "an unenvious geopolitical position".[14] Although some may see this as the sign that Serbia will join the US-EU sanctions against Russia, I do not think it will happen as yet. And regarding Serbia and NATO, the public support for membership is so low that Vučić is likely to stay away from that topic for some time to come. Still, as this year Serbia is presiding over the Organization  for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has been given an important mandate in resolving the Ukraine civil war, the US-NATO use of the carrot-and-stick approach toward its leaders will only increase.

Since both Macedonia and Kosovo have the governments oriented toward the eventual NATO membership, their dominant political and media elites reacted to Kerry's remarks in much the same way as in Montenegro. However, considering that Kosovo has many unresolved political and economic issues with Serbia, and that Macedonia appears far from resolving the issue of its official name with Greece, these two states are much more susceptible to the US-NATO fear-spreading campaigns than Serbia and Montenegro.

Generally speaking, Kosovo is more prone to destabilization than Macedonia because, on the one hand, there is the increasingly close political and economic cooperation with the neighboring Albania, a NATO member since 2009, exemplified for instance by the joint sessions of the two governments,[15] and, also, the presence of a sizable US military contigent at the US base "Bondsteel" in the eastern part of the country, while, on the other hand, the northern part of the country, populated by the Serbian minority, is strongly supported by the Serbian goverment and resists assimilation by the central Kosovo authorities.

However, within the last two months, Macedonia has been plunged into a very serious political crisis with the government accusing the main opposition party leaders for planning a coup helped by a foreign intelligence agency (the CIA), while the opposition is alleging a massive abuse of power by the government, including the extensive and invasive surveillance of its opponents. The opposition leader Zoran Zaev has publicly released several records of the allegedly wiretapped conversations between the prime minister Nikola Gruevski and other high-level government officials discussing the use of corrupt and illegal means to hold on to polical power.[16] And so, it does appear that "fire" might indeed break out in Macedonia in the near future. However, the winds fanning it do not come from the East, but from the West.

In fact, the overall conclusion seems to be that the US-NATO Empire, faced with the inevitable failure of its methods to rule over the Balkans, and with the rise of political forces which are increasingly rejecting this domination as such, is trying to shift the blame for the ensuing political and economic crises on the usual suspect, the ultimate "fall country" (as in the colloquial "fall guy"), that is to say, Russia.

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Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

[1] The webcast of the entire session can be seen here: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcast/state-foreign-operations-subcommittee-fy16-us-department-state-budget-hearing

[2] http://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2015&mm=02&dd=25&nav_id=93293

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/12/10/bfp-exclusive-the-southeast-european-times-the-us-military-propaganda-operation-in-the-balkans/

[5] See the webcast at 1:35:25.

[6] See for instance http://www.rtklive.com/en/?id=2&r=975; http://www.b92.net/eng/news/world.php?yyyy=2015&mm=02&dd=25&nav_id=93293; http://balkanopen.com/kerry-balkan-countries-in-line-of-fire-over-ukraine/

[7] http://www.cdm.me/politika/janjic-poruka-crnoj-gori-da-ce-do-kraja-godine-u-nato

[8] http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/putin-zeli-da-destabilizuje-crnu-goru-821034; http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_UNITED_STATES_UKRAINE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-02-25-14-57-39

[9] http://www.politika.rs/rubrike/Politika/Kako-je-utvrdjena-vojna-neutralnost.lt.html

[10] http://www.cdm.me/politika/janjic-poruka-crnoj-gori-da-ce-do-kraja-godine-u-nato

[11]http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/story/9/Politika/1842444/Srpska+politi%C4%8Dka+ru%C5%BEa+vetrova.html

[12] http://www.frontal.ba/novost/77517/nakon-sto-se-zalagao-za-bombardovanje-srbije-toni-bler-je-sada-vucicev-savjetnik-; It appears that what ties Vučić, Djukanović and Blair together are their links with the controversial Palestinian Mohammed Dahlan and the powerful UAE circles. Dahlan, a known associate of the US intelligence agencies, has recently been granted both the Serbian and Montenegrin citizenship. See my previous BFP article, http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2015/02/05/bfp-exclusive-the-citizenship-policies-of-the-us-puppets-the-case-of-montenegros-milo-djukanovic/

[13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk4SV08cA64

[14] http://rs.n1info.com/a38826/Vesti/Vucic-o-boravku-Tonija-Blera-u-Beogradu.html

[15] http://www.rtklive.com/en/?id=2&r=1017

[16] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/27/fears-macedonias-fragile-democracy-amid-coup-wiretap-claims

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