And while the Russian invasion of Ukraine is raging for 16 days, many European countries estimate that they will be the next to be targeted by Vladimir Putin. According to Western officials, the most vulnerable targets could be those countries that are not members of NATO or the European Union. Among them are Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
At the same time analysts warn that even countries & # 8211; NATO members could be at risk. These are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Montenegro. The aforementioned countries could be in danger of either a direct Russian military intervention or a political destabilization effort.
According to the Associated Press, Mikhail Baranowski, who works as the director of the German Marshall Fund office in Warsaw, said that Putin had stated from the beginning that the Russian invasion was not only about Ukraine, but also about the eastern side of NATO and the rest of Eastern Europe.
“He told us what he wanted to do when he listed his demands, which included a change of government in Kyiv, but he also talked about NATO's eastern side and the rest of Eastern Europe,” he said. Baranowski in the Associated Press.
At a time when Ukraine is facing strong opposition, the director of the German Marshall Fund's office in Warsaw said that “it is not really clear now how it will achieve its other goals.”
The United States is fully aware of the concern in Eastern and Central Europe, as many see the war in Ukraine as a prelude to wider attacks on former Warsaw Pact countries in an effort to restore Russian regional sovereignty.
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said “Russia is not going to stop in Ukraine.” “We are concerned about our neighbors Moldova, Georgia and the Western Balkans,” he added. “We have to watch the Western Balkans, especially Bosnia, which could face destabilization from Russia,” Borel said.
could be endangered by Russia:
Like its neighbor Ukraine, the former Soviet Republic of Moldova has problems with separatists in the east of the country. This is the disputed area of Transnistria, where 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed. But although Moldova is militarily neutral and has no plans to join NATO, it formally applied for EU membership when the Russian invasion began. This was done in order to strengthen its ties with the West.
The country of 2.6 million people is one of the poorest in Europe, and in recent days thousands of Ukrainians who have fled the country have taken refuge there. their country to save themselves from the Russian invasion.
Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine has caused concern in the Moldovan government, as there are fears that Putin will try to link separatists east of the Dniester River to Ukraine via the strategic port of Odessa. However, a few days ago, when US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visited Moldova, he stressed that “we stand by Moldova and any other country that may be threatened in the same way.”
For her part, Moldovan President Maya Santou said there was no indication that Russian forces had changed their position. He added that there was concern and added that “in this area now there is no possibility of feeling safe”.
According to the AP, during the war in 2008, when the Tbilisi government tried unsuccessfully to retake the breakaway province of South Ossetia, it was defeated within five days. Moscow destroyed the Georgian army and hundreds of people were killed. Russia later recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and strengthened its presence in those areas.
Although the government condemned the Russian invasion, it did not allow hundreds of Georgian volunteers to leave. go to Ukraine to fight against Russia. Although Georgia seems to be neutral in the center of Tbilisi, solidarity rallies have taken place in Ukraine.
Like Moldova, Georgia has applied for tensions in the European Union following the Russian invasion. However, he emphasized that the decision was not a signal of a formal antitrust inquiry into Russia, saying “there are fears of a second Russian invasion in a few years.”It may be more than 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but memories are still fresh in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Immediately after the start of the Russian invasion, NATO not only moved quickly but increased its military presence in the allies on the east side of the North Atlantic Alliance, while the United States has pledged additional support.
It is indicative that those in the Baltics who are very old and remember living in the Soviet Union say that what happened before the start of the Russian invasion was reminiscent of the mass deportations and oppression they had suffered in the past. The three countries were annexed by Stalin during the war and became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union. Latvian Deputy Defense Minister Janis Garisons stressed that “Russia always measures the military strength and the will of the countries to fight.” “Once they see a weakness, they will take advantage of it,” he added.
It would be difficult for Russian troops to reach the Balkans without the involvement of NATO forces stationed in neighboring countries. But the Russian side could destabilize the region with the help of its ally Serbia. In fact, it equips it with tanks, warplanes and sophisticated air defense systems.
It is no coincidence that the Kremlin has always considered the Balkans to be part of their sphere of influence. And all this while they did not belong to the Soviet bloc.
At the same time, there are fears in the West that the Serbian government, which has refused to participate in international sanctions imposed on Russia, could destabilize neighboring countries such as Bosnia. Of course, the Serbs have repeatedly stated that they are not involved in the interior of their neighboring countries, but it is a fact that there is a strong minority of Serbs in Bosnia who would like their territories to secede.
Even the Russian embassy in Sarajevo just last year warned that if the country makes efforts to join NATO then “our country will have to react to this hostile act. NATO membership will force Bosnia to take part in the “military-political confrontation”. which has the potential to spread instability.
For its part, Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia in 1999, called on the United States to establish a permanent military base in the country and speed up NATO integration following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“The acceleration of Kosovo's accession to NATO and the holding of a permanent US force base is an urgent need to guarantee peace, security and stability in the Western Balkans,” Kosovo Defense Minister Armend Mehaj told Facebook. The response from Belgrade was immediate as the move was declared unacceptable.
In 2008, Kosovo's declaration of independence was recognized by more than 100 countries, mostly Western nations, but not by Russia or Serbia. Montenegro, a former ally of Russia, has turned its back on Moscow to join NATO in 2017.
In fact, it imposed sanctions on Russia and is considered the next country in the Western Balkans to join the EU. At home, there are divisions between pro-Western politicians and pro-Serbian and pro-Russian camps, raising tensions.
It is worth noting that Russia has repeatedly warned pro-Western President Milo Djukanovic that joining NATO was illegal and without the consent of all Montenegro.
LIVE: Russian raids in the west, closer to the battle of Kiev & # 8211; Ukraine awaits invasion of Belarus
< blockquote class = "wp-embedded-content" data-secret = "XmzfTGbxHb">
The oligarchs raise their voices to Putin – Heavy the blow of war and sanctions