By Dionis Cenușa

Moldova, Chisinau: A photograph of a health worker made by Alex Iordache vandalized in the Cathedral Park.
© Pierre Crom

“At the background of Russia that is limping, Romania can articulate a robust “vaccine diplomacy “, which, in addition to increasing its popularity among Moldovan citizens, will contribute to diminishing Russian influence …”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health crisis in Moldova has stood out due to the high rate of infection and mortality, which places it in the list of the most active sources of infection in Eastern Europe. But, in addition to the multiple failures related to the management of the pandemic, the country has become a case study where the competition between two “vaccine diplomacies” can be observed, rather hidden than overt, but also unequal — between Romania and Russia. While each of them pursues antagonistic historical-geopolitical interests in Moldova, the COVID-19 crisis…

By Brian Whitmore

Belarus, Minsk: Actors hug each other prior to a theater representation. © Pierre Crom

As the Russian and Belarusian armed forces launched back-to-back exercises this week, the two countries also announced plans to establish permanent joint military training centers.

And just days before the military drills began, a new pro-Kremlin Belarusian political party held its founding congress in Minsk on March 6. Prominent guests included a Russian lawmaker from Ukraine’s occupied Crimean peninsula and an advisor to Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

As the Belarus crisis enters its eighth month, the strategy of Russian President Vladimir Putin is coming into clearer focus: leverage the unrest, the political uncertainty, and Belarusian…

Anticipating Russia’s reaction to future EU sanctions: division, disinformation or destabilization?

By Dionis Cenușa

Ukraine, Grabovo: Russia-backed fighters walk between the remains of the downed MH17 flight. © Pierre Crom

“The EU has the technical capacity, the financial power and the moral authority to play the role of objective arbiter that can prevent the movement of the local political actors in the wrong direction, which anyways favor the Russian factor …”

The movement of the power-opposition confrontation outside the Russian borders, generated by the persecution of Alexey Navalny, after the failed attempt of his poisoning, put before the EU the tough decision to multiply the sanctions against Russia. The new category of sanctions seeks to punish human rights violations and was agreed by member states at the latest EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting (February 22, 2021). The emphasis of the sanctions is on the politicizing of Navalny’s trial and brutal repression of pro-Navalny protests. The Moscow fiasco of European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell (IPN, February 2021) has…

by Joanna Hosa

“Why the EU should appoint a special representative for Crimea” by Joanna Hosa was originally published on The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

By appointing a special representative for Crimea, the EU would show its commitment to standing by its partners and rejecting Russia’s violations of international law.

Ukraine, Crimea, Perevalne — March 16, 2014: A russian soldier without insignia stands guard outside a Ukrainian military base. © Pierre Crom

Hardly anyone mentions Crimea anymore. The territory is an awkward topic because no one truly knows what to do with it. In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and launched a war in Donbas, in flagrant violation of international law. This led to a major stand-off with the West…

by Madalin Necsutu

“What must be done for Russian forces to leave Transnistria” by Madalin Necsutu was originally published on Balkan Insight

As Moldova and Russia spar again over Moscow’s military presence in the breakaway region of Transnistria, BIRN looks at what it would take to end this decades-long dispute.

Moldova, Transnistria (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic), Bender: A man lifts weights during a contest in the fortress of Bender as Transnistria celebrates the day of the Russian flag. © Pierre Crom

Relations between Moldova’s new elected pro-European president, Maia Sandu, and Russia started off on the wrong foot when Sandu immediately vowed to ensure Russia finally withdraws its troops from the Transnistria region that broke away from Moldova with Russian support in the early-1990s.

“I am sure we will find…

by Aidan Hehir

This article was originally published on Prishtina Insight, republished on Subjectio with the permission of Prishtina Insight

Kosovo, Mitrovica: Kosovo Albanians drink coffee in Mitrovica. © Pierre Crom

As observers scrambled to contrive ever more creative ways to express their amazement at images of mobs storming the Capitol building in Washington DC, many expressed their outrage by arguing that these were scenes usually reserved for “banana republics”, or “the 3rd world.” In particular, some reached for a now familiar trope — this was like something you’d see in the Balkans!

This sentiment was most succinctly expressed by Balkans correspondent for The Economist [and Chairman of the BIRN Network…

By Daniel Serwer

A retired Foreign Service Officer and veteran of the Balkan crisis offers a clear-eyed assessment of Bosnia and Herzegovina a quarter-century after Dayton.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska: Srebrenica covered in fresh snow. © Pierre Crom

Twenty-five years ago, the United States brought forth on the European continent a new state dedicated to the proposition that citizens are not equal as individuals but rather endowed with group rights. Those three groups (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats), denominated as “constituent peoples,” are entitled to block numerical majority decisions. We have tested whether that state — Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) — or any state so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

By Dr. Radosveta Vassileva |

An official commemoration at the Grave of Goce Delchev, a disputed hero between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. © Pierre Crom

Bulgaria recently opposed the start of accession talks with North Macedonia because of a dispute over language, history and heritage. Boyko Borissov’s government blames North Macedonia for not complying with the Friendship Treaty signed in 2017 which was supposed to promote cooperation and alleviate disagreements. This move has drawn a range of emotions, accusations and pompous political statements.

For the pragmatic Euro-Atlanticists, Bulgaria’s veto of accession talks halts much-needed economic development in the Balkans. For the more romantically inclined, Bulgaria’s decision puts the century and a half-long dream of not having a border…

By Nikola Burazer

Serbia, Belgrade, October 2020: A Serbian nationalist wearing a t-shirt depicting Russian president Vladimir Putin during a rally aimed at disturbing the festival promoting Kosovo Albanian culture Miredita, Dobar Dan!
© Pierre Crom

Russia can be considered Serbia’s long-term international ally, especially with regard to the sensitive case of Kosovo. A year-long media research looking for pro-Russian territorial narratives and their effects on local political discourses — in Serbia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine — has revealed, however, that Serbian domestic media plays the most important part in the dissemination of the Kremlin’s messages. Russian leverage over Serbia and its politics is rather cemented by a significant pan-Slavic electorate and diplomatic ties than direct influence by the Kremlin’s media.

It is a dominant discourse among Western experts that…

By Dionis Cenuşa

Belarus, Minsk: Theater students follow a course with Russian teachers at the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts. © Pierre Crom

The European strategy for the Eastern Neighborhood is losing ground to the ever-changing reality. The ability of the European institutions to forecast rapid change, many of which are imminent and therefore predictable, is questionable. In some cases, the EU has shown a lack of preparation for scenarios that follow the disappearing of the initial status quo, as shows the situation in Belarus and around Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Predicting and anticipating the steps of political actors in the Eastern Neighborhood is a weakness for the EU, which has to be yet addressed. Several causes may underlie this deficit…

Subjectio examines influences exercised by the West and Russia in Southeast and Eastern Europe.

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