The Balkan Peninsula together with the region of the South-East Europe historically have been one of the most important focal points of the Russian foreign policy, cultural influences and attempts to spread ideology of the Orthodox solidarity and the Slavic reciprocity. These ideas are common to almost all trends of the Russian public life in the past and today.
After Russia lost the Great Crimean War of 1853–1856 she intensified its cultural influence in the region of the South-East Europe for the purposes of beating the Habsburg (the Roman-Catholic) rivalry and to spread an idea of the Pan-Slavism in this part of Europe. However, the Great Crimean War was in essence the British war against Russia (Figes, 2010; Lambert, 2011; Small, 2014) in order to stop further Russian victories against the Ottoman Empire (Isaacs, 2001, 156; Anisimov, 298−299). After this war it became obvious for Russia that the West European great powers are her enemies, especially the United Kingdom. It will take even 50 years for Russia to sign a military-political agreement with the United Kingdom (in 1907) only after a final sharing the spheres of influence in Persia (Hans-Erich, 1985, 134).
The political and economic rivalry between Russia, on one hand, and the Habsburg Monarchy (Austria-Hungary from 1867) and the German Empire (from 1871), on other, over the dominance at the Balkans was strongly affected in Russia by the growth of the Pan-Slavic sentiment, based on the common Slavic origin, mutual Paleoslavonic language, and above all it was grounded on emotional sentiment to liberate those South Slavs who were under the Ottoman yoke (Jelavich, 1991). Historically, Russia had three pivotal interests in both regions the Balkans and the South-East Europe: 1) strategic, 2) cultural, and 3) religious (Castellan, 1992). It is important to stress a fact that Russia, together with the West European states, participated in the process of modernization of the eastern Balkan nations and states (Black, 1974).
From a strategic point of view, the Russian diplomacy concerned the Balkans and the South-East Europe as essential for the Russian state security and above all for the stability of the Russian state frontiers. Russia’s intention was to obtain a favorable frontier in Bessarabia (today an independent Republic of Moldova) and to have control over the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which became very important to the Russian commercial and economic development and geopolitical projects; in particular for the shipment of surplus grain from today Ukraine or known also as a Little Russia (Прыжов, 1869; Соловьев, 1947) to the world markets.
The Bosporus and the Dardanelles became a part of Russia’s “security zone” in both economic and political terms. The Russian main concern was to safeguard free passage through the Bosporus Straits to the Mediterranean Sea (Jelavich, 1973). Simultaneously, Russia intended to block the expansion of the other European great powers, particularly of Austria-Hungary and Germany, into the region.
Taking religious and cultural aspects of the Russian interests in the Balkans and the South-East Europe, largely due to the Russian Pan-Slavic agitation, Russia succeeded to develop from 1870 a strong interest in the fate of the Balkan Slavs and the South-East European Orthodox Christians. The Pan-Slavism, based on the myth of the Slavic solidarity and primarily on the Orthodox Slavic reciprocity, which created strong ethnic, religious and cultural sentiments among the Slavic Orthodox population (but not among the Roman Catholic Slavs), became at the end of the 19th century one of the dominant driving forces behind the Russian policy in the Balkans and the South-East Europe. The myth of the Slavic solidarity and brotherhood exerted a considerable influence on many intellectuals and found support in official circles in Russia, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria.
The Tsarist Russia was sincerely trying all the time to reconcile the Slavic nations in conflict, especially those of the Christian Orthodox faith for the sake of the Pan-Slavic ideals of intra-Slavic solidarity, reciprocity and brotherhood. Probably the case of the Serbian-Bulgarian conflict in 1912−1915 over the Macedonian Question is the best example of such Russian policy of Panslavism. In the other words, Russia became the creator of the 1912 Serbian−Bulgarian treaty and recognized arbiter in 1912−1913 diplomatic conflict between Serbia and Bulgaria over the destiny of Macedonia after the Balkan Wars (Ћоровић, 1990а, 20−24). The Russian Balkan policy in this case was a real Panslavonic one as St. Petersburg wanted to satisfy territorial claims of both sides by negotiations and diplomatic agreement between Sofia and Belgrade. When Austria-Hungary declared war to Serbia on July 23rd, 1914 all Entente member states, including and Russia, were making pressure on Serbia to give territorial compensation (the Vardar Macedonia) to Bulgaria for the Bulgarian participation in the war against the Central Powers. Serbia was promised, like in the secret 1915 London Treaty, territorial concessions in the Western Balkans populated by the ethnic Serbs living in the Dual Monarchy. For instance, a Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sazonov, on August 5th, 1914 urged the Serbian Government to give to Bulgaria Macedonian territories up to the line Kriva Palanka−Ohrid with Struga for Bulgarian active participation in the war against Austria-Hungary and towns of Shtip, Radovishte and the lands up to Vardar river for Bulgarian “friendly neutrality”. For such Serbia’s sacrifice, Russia promised to Belgrade to support Serbia at the end of the war in realization of her “national ideals”. However, Sazonov was clear in this case that Serbia by giving such territorial sacrifice is going to very contribute to the Russian “life wish” to establish the Panslavonic fraternity and eternal friendship between the Serbs and Bulgarians (Радојевић, Димић, 2014, 138). The same territorial requirements to Serbia were vainly repeated once again by the Entente member states in 1915 before Bulgaria finally joined the war on the side of the Central Powers in October of the same year (Avramovski, 1985, 55−172; Трубецки, 1994, 21−158).
Unfortunately, Serbia rejected such friendly Russia’s proposals and as a consequence lost 25% of its population during the WWI, 50% of industry and the most important its statehood. Instead of a strong and efficient United Serbia it was created loose, destructive and above all anti-Serbian Yugoslavia with the Roman Catholic Croats and Slovenes as the clients of Vatican.
Anisimov, J. (2014). Rusijos istorija nuo Riuriko iki Putino: Žmonės. Įvykiai. Datos. Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras.
Avramovski, Ž. (1985). Ratni ciljevi Bugarske i Centralne sile 1914−1918. Beograd: Institut za savremenu istoriju.
Black, E. C. (1974). “Russia and the Modernization of the Balkans”. Jelavich, Ch. & Jelavich, B. (eds.). The Balkans in Transition: Essays on the Development of Balkan Life and Politics since the Eighteenth century, Archon Books.
Castellan, G. (1992). History of the Balkans: From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin. New York: Columbia University Press, East European Monographs, Boulder.
Cooper, F. A., Heine, J., Thakur, R. (eds.) (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy. Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press.
Figes, O. (2010). The Crimean War: A History. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Gvosdev, K. N., & Marsh, Ch. (2014). Russian Foreign Policy: Interests, Vectors, and Sectors. Thousand Oaks: CoPress.
Hans-Erich, S., & et al (eds.) (1985). Westerman Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte. Braunsschweig: C. A. Koch’s Verlag Nachf.
Isaacs, A., Alexander, F., Law, J., Martin, E. (eds.) (2001). Oxford Dictionary of World History. Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press.
Jelavich, B. (1973). The Ottoman Empire, the Great Powers, and the Straits Question, 1870−1887, Indiana University Press.
Jelavich, B. (1991). Russia’s Balkan Entanglements, 1806−1914. Bloomington.
Kohn, H. (1960). Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology. Vintage.
Lambert, A. (2011). The Crimean War: British Grand Strategy Against Russia, 1853−56. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Mansbach, W. R., Taylor, L. K. (2012). Introduction to Global Politics. London−New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Narochnitskaya, A. N. (1998). “Spiritual and geopolitical rivalry in the Balkans at the brink of the XXI century”. Eurobalkans, autumn. 18–23.
Palmowski, J. (2004). A Dictionary of Contemporary World History from 1900 to the Present Day. Oxford−New York: Oxford University Press.
Plokhy, S. (2008). Ukraine & Russia: Representations of the Past. Toronto−Buffalo−London: University of Toronto Press Incorporated.
Plokhy, S. (2010). The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Riasanovsky, V. N. (2006). A History of Russia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Small, H. (2014). The Crimean War: Queen Victoria’s War with the Russian Tsars. London: Tempus Publishing.
Tsygankov, P. A. (2013). Russia’s Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity. Lanham, Mar.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Попов, Н. (1870). Србија и Русија: Од Кочине крајине до Св. Андрејевске скупштине. Београд: Државна штампарија.
Прыжов, И. Г. (1869). Малороссия (Южная Русь) в истории ее литературы с XI по XVIII век., Воронеж.
Поповић, В. (1940). Европа и српско питање. Београд.
Радојевић, М., Димић, Љ. (2014). Србија у Великом рату 1914−1918. Кратка историја. Београд: Српска књижевна задруга−Београдски форум за свет равноправних.
Соловьев, А. В. (1947). „Великая, Малая и Белая Русь“. Вопросы истории. Москва: Академия наук СССР. 7. 24−38.
Трубецки, Н. Г. (1994). Рат на Балкану 1914−1917. и руска дипломатија. Београд: Просвета.
Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic
© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2016
 The Balkans is a peninsula in the South-East Europe that today includes Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Albania, Macedonia (the FYROM), Bulgaria and the European portion of Turkey. The South-East Europe is enlarged Balkans with Romania and Moldova.
 The Balkans was all the time a peninsula of a clash of civilizations. According to Samuel P. Huntington, a civilization is a cultural entity and he identified eight such civilizations. One of them was the Slavic-Orthodox. Civilizations differ in terms of history, language, culture, tradition but above all religion. Huntington argued that every civilization had and has a protector core state as, for instance, Russia historically was and today is a protector of the Slavic-Orthodox civilization (Mansbach, Taylor, 2012, 447).
 Great power was originally in the 18th century the term for a European state which could not be conquered by any other state or even by several of them. After the WWII this term is applied to a country that is regarded as among the most powerful in the global system and global politics (Mansbach, Taylor, 2012, 578).
 The British-Russian convention over Persia in 1907 divided the country into a northern section under the Russian influence, a neutral part in the middle, and a southern zone under the UK’s influence (Palmowski, 2004, 304).
 About the Pan-Slavism, see in (Kohn, 1960).
 About the Russian history, see in (Riasanovsky, 2006).
 About Russia’s foreign policy interests, see in (Tsygankov, 2013; Gvosdev, 2014).
 About Ukraine-Russian identity relations, see in (Plokhy, 2008; Plokhy, 2010).
 About the spiritual and geopolitical rivalry in the Balkans by the great European powers, see in (Поповић, 1940; Narochnitskaya, 1998). According to Lord Palmerston, the nations (states) have no permanent enemies and allies; they have only permanent interests (Cooper, Heine, Thakur, 2015, 72).
 For instance, about Russia’s influence in Serbia from the end of the 18th century to the mid-19th century, see in (Попов, 1870).
The same arguments used to justify a western ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Kosovo in 1999 could be used to support a Russian intervention in Ukraine.
This article originally appeared at Irrussianality
Yesterday, I gave a talk on ‘The Folly of Military Intervention’ at McGill University. Afterwards, one of the students asked me a question about parallels between the wars in Kosovo in 1999 and Ukraine in 2014/15. As I answered, I found myself thinking about the scale of the humanitarian crises in both cases and what this means for supporters of so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’.
In 1999, NATO aircraft bombed Yugoslavia for three months. The aim, ...
Kosovo is Clinton Country: a 10-foot-high statue of Bill overlooks “Bill Clinton Boulevard” in the capital city of Pristina. Hillary is also memorialized in what has become the crime capital of Europe: right off the street named for her husband is a store named “Hillary,” featuring women’s clothing modeled after the putative Democratic party nominee for President. Pantsuits figure prominently. As Vice puts it: “While former President Bill Clinton has had a boulevard named after him, it’s without a doubt that his wife’s the real star out here.” Why is that?
As Gail Sheehy pointed out in her biography of Hillary, ...
Last Thursday, news reports were largely devoted to the March 22 Brussels terror bombings and the US primary campaigns. And so little attention was paid to the verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for (former) Yugoslavia (ICTY) finding Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic guilty of every crime it could come up with, including “genocide”. It was a “ho-hum” bit of news. Karadzic had already been convicted by the media of every possible crime, and nobody ever imagined that he would be declared innocent by the single-issue court set up in The Hague essentially to judge the Serb side in the ...
Back in the 1990s something happened in central Bosnia-Herzegovina that inspired people to this day and helps explain why that country now has more men fighting in Syria and Iraq (over 300), as a proportion of its population, than most in Europe.
The formation of a "Mujahideen Battalion" in 1992, composed mainly of Arab volunteers in central Bosnia, was a landmark. Today the dynamic of jihad has been reversed and it is Bosnians who are travelling to Arab lands.
"There is a war between the West and Islam," says Aimen Dean, who, as a young Saudi Arabian volunteer, travelled to fight in ...
The German occupation forces were those who have been the first to create and recognise a short-lived state’s independence of Ukraine in January 1918 during the time of their-own inspired and supported anti-Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917−1921. As reoccupied by the Bolshevik Red Army, the eastern and southern parts of the present-day territory of (a Greater) Ukraine joined in 1922 the USSR as a separate Soviet Socialist Republic (without Crimea). According to 1926 Soviet census of Crimea, the majority of its population were the Russians (382.645). The second largest ethnic group were the Tartars (179.094). Therefore, a Jew V. I. ...
Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think ...
There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.
This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as «godless communism» and an «evil empire». Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media ...
The conflict that raged throughout the former Yugoslavia was met by a wall of silence when it came to important issues. These important issues apply to America and the United Kingdom supporting Islamists in a brutal civil war in Bosnia and then installing a new nation by ignoring international law in Kosovo. Also, is it credible to believe that the vast majority of major news agencies and national governments did not know about thousands of Islamists in Europe who were sent to slit the throats and behead Orthodox Christians?
After all, if the reality of what really happened in Bosnia and ...
Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!
BELGRADE – Serbia organized an exhibition of cultural and historical heritage of Kosovo and Metohija in Paris, the headquarters of UNESCO, to serve as a reminder to the West of how they let it be destroyed since the 2000s.
There is a lot of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. Now, Kosovo is an independent state, partially recognized by Western countries. But the world was shocked by anti-Serbian riots organized by Albanians during the Kosovo unrest in 2004. Many Serbian monuments were damaged in the chaos.
Albanian extremists living in Kosovo, since the 2000s, have continued to raid and damage Serbian ...
On January 19th, 2016 on the bilateral meeting between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the official representatives of the European Jewish Congress the latter applied to Putin to take a necessary steps for the sake to improve the generally bad position of the Jewish community on the Old Continent. Surprisingly, the President, not so much as a joke, invited both all the present-day European Jews and those Jews who left the USSR simply to immigrate to Russia.
At the first glance one can say – very gentle and even democratic move by the President. However, lets a little bit to analyze ...
The only discussion of principle emerging from the debates over Kosovar and Crimean independence is that initiated by Woodrow Wilson towards the end of World War One, about whether national minorities have the right to self-determination. Can a smaller group be compelled to be part of a larger state, or should they be permitted to secede? To what extent do minority rights amount to a freedom to determine one’s own sovereignty?
In June 1999 an international military force led by the United States annexed Kosovo, then a province in southern Serbia with a population of perhaps 1.6 million people. Virtually all ...
Once NATO’s 1999 war on Yugoslavia came to an end, units of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) poured across the border. The KLA wasted little time in implementing its dream of an independent Kosovo purged of all other nationalities. Among those bearing the brunt of ethnic hatred were the Roma, commonly known in the West as Gypsies. Under the protective umbrella of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), the KLA was free to launch a pogrom in which they beat, tortured, murdered and drove out every non-Albanian and every non-secessionist Albanian they could lay their hands on.
Not long after the war, I ...
Over the past several years, analysts and commentators have noticed a rising tide of domestic support for the Croatian homegrown Nazi movement of the Second World War, the Ustashe, which actively exterminated Serbs, Jews, and Roma in the territory it controlled from 1941-45. Far from condemning this alarming development, the Croatian government, the European Union, and non-state actors within it have tacitly and actively supported the rising tide of sympathy towards the Ustashe.
This disconnect between the ostensible “European values” of human rights and tolerance that the European Union claims to represent, and its tacit support of trends towards extremist politics ...
Both before and after Crimea left Ukraine and joined Russia in a public referendum on 16 March 2014, the Gallup Organization polled Crimeans on behalf of the U.S. Government, and found them to be extremely pro-Russian and anti-American, and also anti-Ukrainian. (Neither poll was subsequently publicized, because the results of each were the opposite of what the sponsor had wished.) Both polls were done on behalf of the U.S. Government, in order to find Crimeans’ attitudes toward the United States and toward Russia, and also toward Ukraine, not only before but also after the planned U.S. coup in Ukraine, which occurred ...
According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.
But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the ...
The corporate media presents Russia as militaristic but ignores Canada’s invasion of that country.
100 years ago today a popular revolt ousted the Russian monarchy. Enraged at Nicholas II’s brutality and the horror of World War I, protests and strikes swept the capital of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg). Within a week the czar abdicated. Later in the year the Bolsheviks rose to power in large part by committing to withdraw from the war.
The English, French and US responded to the Bolshevik’s rise by supporting the Russian monarchists (the whites) in their fight to maintain power. Six thousand Canadian troops also invaded. According ...
The end of the Cold War era in 1989 brought during the first coming years a kind of international optimism that the idea of the „end of history“ really can be realized as it was a belief in no reason for the geopolitical struggles between the most powerful states. The New World Order, spoken out firstly by M. Gorbachev in his address to the UN on December 7th, 1988 was originally seen as the order of equal partnership in the world politics reflecting „radically different international circumstances after the Cold War“.
Unfortunately, the Cold War era finished without the „end of ...
Western media is becoming unhinged as its anti-Russia propaganda struggles to keep a hold on its consumers. Two recent examples provide evidence.
Pro-peace conspiracy emanating from Moscow
On August 28, the New York Times published an article by its Moscow bureau chief about the troubling news (from the Times‘ viewpoint) that the people of Sweden are not happy with their government’s wish to join up with the NATO military alliance.
The ruling elites in Sweden and Finland have been quietly pushing for NATO membership for years. In May, the Swedish government pushed through the Riksdag a proposal for a ‘cooperation agreement’ with NATO, ...
“Responsibility To Protect” Was Not Valid In Kosovo And Isn’t Valid In Ukraine
Kosovo: Hillary Clinton’s Legacy Of Terror
International Injustice: The Conviction Of Radovan Karadzic
Bosnia: The cradle of modern jihadism?
On Which Principle Ukraine’s Borders Are Formed?
Russophobia And The Dark Art Of Anti-Russian Magazine Covers
Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion
Bosnia and Kosovo: Radical Islam, Organ Trafficking and Western Mainstream Media Bias
Kosovo ISIL – A Photo Documentation
Europe’s Palmyra: How Kosovo’s Medieval Culture Was Demolished By Albanians
Why Putin Discriminates Kosovo Serbs?
CIA Discovered Who Helped Hitler To Win Elections In Germany And To Become A Chancellor In 1933 – A Document of Evidence
Kosovo and Crimea: What’s the Difference?
Sixteenth anniversary of the attack on Yugoslavia: Expulsion of Roma from Kosovo
The European Union, Moral Hypocrisy, and Stroking Tension in the Balkans
Crimea: Was It Seized by Russia, or Did Russia Block Its Seizure by the U.S.?
Why the Ukraine crisis is the West’s fault
When Canada invaded Russia
A Geopolitical Convergence Between The US And Russia
Western Media Propaganda Threatens Peace and Prolongs the Deadly Conflict in Eastern Ukraine