Donbass, why does Putinian propaganda always evoke Kosovo?

Of Francesco Battistini

The aim is to send a message to the West and emphasize that it takes very little for the Kremlin to reignite a fire in the Balkans

KIEV Kosovo, always Kosovo. What does Kosovo have to do with it? The last time he met Vladimir Putin last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz blurted out. In the halls of the Kremlin they tried (in vain) to avert the invasion of the Donbass, and the Tsar always insisted on the same keys: Ukrainians are carrying out a genocide of Russian minorities, NATO cannot expand this far … Until it has turned to an example that is dear to it: I remind you, dear Westerners, what you did in Kosovo in 1999 and what you have been doing in Bosnia, Serbia and there for thirty years, with NATO and your aggressive and bellicose expansion …

For those who do not remember well: those of Bosnia and Kosovo were the first NATO bombings in Europe. The need to stop the massacres of Milosevic’s Serbs. But also the visiting card of the Atlantic Alliance as guardian of the world, long before Iraq or Afghanistan. There was Boris Yeltsin and a weak Russia knocking on NATO doors, then, and there was a West that did everything to keep Moscow at the corner of history, however succeeding. The bombs rained down without the Russians knowing anything. It was also because of that humiliation that Yeltsin, perhaps, ultimately failed. Certainly, it was from that moment that the nationalists in Moscow got their breath back, and the way was paved for Putin’s rise.

to those times that the Tsar refers today when he says that basically he is doing in the Donbass (recognizing two secessionist republics) what the West did with Kosovo (recognizing its detachment from Serbia). Historical comparisons are always risky, especially when they serve to justify bullying: unlike what happens in Donetsk and Lugansk, Serbian genocides and war crimes were documented; and it was precisely the minorities protected by Moscow, at the time, who attacked. For we know how Vladimir Vladimirovic is one who speaks with facts and it is no coincidence that on Monday, while the whole world was looking at Ukraine, in those hours the Tsar sent one of his main advisors, Nikolai Patrushev, to the Balkans. , the powerful secretary of the Kremlin Security Council, for two days of meetings. Officially, the mission has an almost negligible purpose: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that there is information on the arrival of recruited mercenaries in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, destined to fight against the Russians in the Donbass. An argument that surprised the Kosovars, ready to deny, but alerted Belgrade: dozens of Serbs, in the past, went to fight (with the Russians) in eastern Ukraine and the Serbian president himself, Aleksandr Vucic, spoke about it with the leaders of the his security services, so much so that Putin’s (unlikely) appeal to his Slavic brothers and to the common cause against the West is hypothesized.

Fear of mercenaries? Let’s not joke. There is more at stake. Vucic himself, who will go to the elections on April 3, he is campaigning on the subject of this conflict: NATO. Excluding that Serbia, contrary to what its predecessors dreamed, will never join the Alliance. The Kosovo argument, raised by Putin in these hours, therefore has more purposes: 1) to tell the West that the military intervention in Donbass is the exact mirror of what happened in Kosovo, when NATO did not hesitate to bomb the Serbs to defend his interests (to tell the truth – Scholz replied -, we intervened to stop a massacre of Albanian civilians …); 2) to maintain a decisive influence in the Balkans and for example on the Serbs of Bosnia, the riotous minority that threatens secessions and havoc (just like the two republics of Donbass). Every time Putin asks Bosnian Serbs to get excited, he seems to remind Europe and the US that it doesn’t take much for the Kremlin to reignite the Balkan fire. And he tells us that in Ukraine, and in relations with Moscow, the problems of the Donbass are not at stake.

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