Bosnia-Herzegovina is “crucial” for the security of the Western Balkans at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine poses threats to the stability of the region, NATO Military Committee Chairman Rob Bauer said in Sarajevo on Tuesday.

“This conflict is more than Ukraine, it concerns the protection of the international order based on rules,” Bauer told reporters in Sarajevo after meeting with the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Bosnian Armed Forces, Senad Masovic.

“The security of Bosnia-Herzegovina is crucial for the stability of the Western Balkans and the rest of Europe,” he stressed.

The admiral of the Atlantic Alliance explained that the main reason for his visit is “to better understand the challenges facing the country” and what the capabilities of its Armed Forces are.

He recalled that, at the allied summit at the end of June in Madrid, the 30 member states of the military pact decided to provide more practical support to the associated countries and those at risk, a group in which they mainly see Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova.

The idea is to offer new aid packages for the modernization of security and defense structures.

The already constant tension in the Balkan country, divided into a Serb entity and a common entity of Muslims and Croats, has increased in recent months due to separatist threats from the pro-Russian Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik.

Since 2006, this country has been part of the NATO program “Association for Peace” and in 2018 the Action Plan for Accession was activated, considered a prelude to entry into the Alliance.

However, among the country’s authorities there is no consensus on joining the Western military pact, which is opposed by the Bosnian Serbs, while Muslims and Croats support it.

Bauer is also scheduled to meet with the Bosnian presidential shortlist.

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