Russia claims Bosnia could suffer same fate as Ukraine if it decides to join Nato

‘Ukraine’s example shows what we expect. Should there be any threat, we will respond,’ says top Russian official

Emily Atkinson
Thursday 17 March 2022 20:15 GMT
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A senior Russian official has claimed that Bosnia and Herzegovina could be subject to the same brutal aggression as Ukraine if it joins the Nato military alliance.

Speaking to broadcasters on Thursday, Russia’s ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor Kalbukhov, said the country was free to make its own choice with regards to Nato, but warned the Kremlin would “respond”.

He told FTV: “If [Bosnia and Herzegovina] decides to be a member of any alliance, that is an internal matter. Our response is a different matter.

“Ukraine’s example shows what we expect. Should there be any threat, we will respond.”

He went on to accuse Western allies of fuelling tensions with the aspiring Nato member in suggesting Moscow had hatched a “plan” to hit back at the country.

“We do not have any plans,” Mr Kalbukhov added, echoing previous comments made by the Kremlin about having “no plans” to conduct an offensive on neighbouring Ukraine.

Smoke and flames rise due to a fire that broke out after Russian rockets hit warehouses in Sviatoshynskyi district, Kyiv
Smoke and flames rise due to a fire that broke out after Russian rockets hit warehouses in Sviatoshynskyi district, Kyiv (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The US embassy in Sarajevo has since condemned the comments made by the Russian ambassador and reiterated their continued support for the country.

A policeman collects evidence of a falling shell in a house in Kyiv
A policeman collects evidence of a falling shell in a house in Kyiv (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The US embassy tweeted: “The Russian Ambassador’s latest threats to Bosnia and Herzegovina are dangerous, irresponsible, and unacceptable. No third party has a say in security arrangements between NATO and sovereign countries.

“We will continue to stand firmly by Bosnia and Herzegovina as it takes the necessary steps to secure its place in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations.”

Despite stark Russian warnings, Vladimir Putin’s troops would have to cross a series of Nato territories in order to reach Bosnia and Herzegovina. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia all stand in its way, among others, suggesting the ambassador’s comments may just be for effect.

People gather near a block of flats, which was destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol
People gather near a block of flats, which was destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol (REUTERS)

It comes as a US defence official said today that Russian troops have fired more than 1,000 missiles at Ukrainian targets since it launched its invasion three weeks ago.

But earlier on Thursday, another senior US defence official said that the White House had noted signs of “flagging” morale among the Russian forces in some units deployed to Ukraine.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

“We certainly have picked up anecdotal indications that morale is not high in some units,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Some of that is, we believe, a function of poor leadership, lack of information that the troops are getting about their mission and objectives, and I think disillusionment from being resisted (by Ukrainians) as fiercely as they have been.”

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