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US Issues Sanctions to Limit Russian Influence in Balkans

The United States on Thursday targeted 10 individuals in a new round of sanctions aimed at containing Russian influence in the Western Balkans, the U.S. Treasury said.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on 20 entities, including 11 based in Russia, in line with executive orders related to the Western Balkans and Russia, according to a Treasury website.

The Western Balkans-related sanctions are the latest imposed by the United States on politicians, other individuals and organizations designed to contain Russian efforts to prevent the region’s integration into international institutions, the Treasury said.

The sanctions freeze all property and other assets those targeted have in the United States or are controlled by U.S. citizens and generally prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

Those hit with sanctions are individuals from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

They include Savo Cvijetinovic, a senior official of the political party led by Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russia leader of Republika Srpska, or R.S., the Serb-dominated half of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dodik already is under U.S. sanctions for alleged corruption and promoting the secession of the Serb Republic.

Cvijetinovic is the R.S. representative of a firm owned by a former Russian Air Force deputy chief that “facilitated the illegal transfer” of Ukrainian-made helicopter engines to Russia, the statement said.

Cvijetinovic told Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA that he suspected the U.S. sanctions were politically motivated, and that the company he represented has legal business with Ukraine and Russia. He said it had supplied spare engine parts, rather than engines.

Also targeted was Petar Djokic, Dodik’s minister of industry, energy and mining, who signed an agreement with a Croatian counterpart to build a pipeline from Croatia to a Russia-owned refinery in the Serb Republic.

Djokic’s Socialist Party said in a statement that the sanctions were “the biggest strike” against the accords that ended the 1992-95 Bosnia war “and the future cooperation and dialogue” in the country.

Dodik’s Moscow representative, Dusko Perovic, was sanctioned for lobbying for meetings between Dodik and Russian President Vladimir Putin, serving as a go-between for the Serb Republic government and an unidentified Russian billionaire and working for two of the billionaire’s firms, Treasury said.

Perovic told SRNA he was not involved in any business in Russia and said that his main duty was to lobby for the R.S. and Dodik, and “if this is a sin for Americans … I have no objections.”

In 2022, Dodik said the United States was accusing him of corruption despite the absence of any criminal proceeding against him.

Source : VOA News