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By Charlie Szrom (research assistant, American Enterprise Institute)
Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor

It will be “some damn thing in the Balkans,” predicted German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the late nineteenth century, that will ignite the next great European war. Bismarck presciently recognized that the region’s national rivalries and great-power meddling could produce a highly combustible mix.

Charlie Szrom, a research assistant in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, in a recent article on the Institute’s website, contends that a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin is seeking to exploit the current Serb-Kosovar dispute to promote its own economic and political interests in the Balkans and all of Europe.

Serbia’s hostile response to Kosovo’s recent declaration of independence, which included Serbian protesters attacking the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, has received unqualified Russian support, according to Szrom, because “Serbia lets Russia project power and accrue profit in Southeastern Europe.” Russia’s controlling interest in Serbia’s national oil conglomeration and its plan to construct a key portion of the South Stream oil pipeline through Serbia will “give Russia…greater control over the European energy market.”

Szrom urges key EU members and the United States to form a unified policy to resist Russia’s latest Balkan strategy. Otherwise, he warns, Europe could once again be confronted with the specter of economic and political pressures from the east. “Some damn thing in the Balkans” once again attracts the world’s careful attention.

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