UK deploys military experts to counter Russian malign influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina

30 Jun 2022 09:54 AM

UK military specialists will be sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina to reinforce the NATO Mission and promote stability and security in the country.

  • Two experts in counter-disinformation and defence reform will work with the Bosnian Armed Forces and NATO to uphold peace and security in the country
  • UK will also provide funding to strengthen cyber security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, making the country more resilient to attacks
  • Russia is stirring violence and secessionism in the country to undermine the hard-won peace and destabilise the European continent

UK military specialists will be sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina to reinforce the NATO Mission and promote stability and security in the country, the Prime Minister has announced today (Thursday 30th June).

Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently facing the greatest existential threat in its post-war period, with secessionist leaders actively working to create further division and conflict. These plans are backed by Moscow as part of Putin’s drive to undermine both Bosnia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and its stability.

At the request of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, a UK military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will be deployed to support and train the Bosnia and Herzegovinian Armed Forces.

The counter-disinformation expert will bolster the NATO HQ and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s ability to resist malign influences – helping block Russian and other efforts to sow mistrust and undermine democracy in the country and region.

The new strategic defence adviser will support defence reform in the country, helping them to develop a modern, representative Armed Forces brought up to NATO standard.

In addition, the UK will provide £750,000 to establish a cyber-security centre of excellent within the University of Sarajevo. This will bolster Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defences against cyber attacks – which can hurt people both within and beyond the country. The UK will work closely with media outlets and Bosnian institutions to equip them with the tools to identify and mitigate the effects of lies and disinformation.

The Ministry of Defence is currently working with its Bosnian counterpart to keep the country rooted on a Euro-Atlantic trajectory, developing the capability and resilience the Bosnian Armed Forces need to tackle the security challenges they face.

The assistance recognises the UK’s leadership in countering malign influence and fostering security and stability. The UK has a longstanding commitment to peace and security in the region, starting in the 1990s when British soldiers formed an integral part of humanitarian efforts during the Bosnian War. UK troops have continuously served it the country ever since, helping it to rebuild and protecting and promoting peace.

The Prime Minister said:

We cannot allow the Western Balkans to become another playground for Putin’s pernicious pursuits. By fanning the flames of secessionism and sectarianism Russia seeks to reverse the gains of the last three decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gains that have brought more stability to our whole continent.

That is why we are stepping up support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, answering the call from our friends to help protect the peace they so rightfully deserve to enjoy.

In addition to military support to the Bosnian Armed Forces and NATO, the UK is working politically to uphold the historic Dayton Peace Accords. We have sanctioned those working to undermine rule of law in the country and last year the Prime Minister appointed a new Special Envoy to the Western Balkans to tackle serious and organised crime and other joint security challenges.