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Bugajski Moderates at Jamestown Belarus Conference

New CEPA Report on Strengthening NATO

Bugajski Testifies at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Janusz Bugajski Testimony 

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 3.30pm-4.30pm

Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 419

Successes and Unfinished Business in the Western Balkans

Janusz BugajskiSenior Fellow

Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), Washington D.C. 

Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Shaheen, and members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the successes as well as the unfinished business in the Western Balkans.

I will begin with the recent successes and then outline the remaining problems. But first a few words why the Western Balkans are important for the United States. The United States expended substantial diplomatic, political, economic, and military capital in ending the wars of Yugoslav succession in the 1990s. Halting these anti-civilian wars was not simply a humanitarian mission it was a trans-Atlantic security operation. Without American leadership at that critical time, NATO would have become redundant through inaction, armed conflicts could have spread outside the former Yugoslavia and embroiled several neighboring states, and potential hotbeds of political and religious radicalism, nurtured by outside powers, would have indefinitely undermined European security.

America commands enormous respect throughout South East Europe not only for saving lives but for expanding the umbrella of security. We may not fully understand Balkan history, but we certainly understand Balkan geography. Without a final resolution of the outstanding regional disputes we unwittingly give ground to radicals, criminals, and menacing foreign influences, whether Russia’s Chekist and military intelligence operatives, jihadist terrorists, Chinese economic state actors, or international smugglers. An unstable South East Europe will reverberate negatively through nearby countries and regions and in the worst-case scenario may pull the United States into another future war to douse the flames. It is in America’s national and security interests to help resolve the outstanding feuds in the Western Balkans and thereby help develop stable states in a cooperative region similar to the Baltics or Central Europe.

Regional Successes

NATO intervention in the West Balkans in the late 1990s, an enduring although reduced Allied military presence until the present day, and lasting U.S. and EU diplomatic engagement has led to a long list of regional successes.

  1. The Dayton accords (1995) for Bosnia-Herzegovina helped to end the war, forged a political agreement between the three major ethno-national groups, and ensured the recognition of a single state.
  2. NATO membership for Slovenia (2004), Croatia (2009), Albania (2009), Montenegro (2017), and North Macedonia (accession due in 2020) strengthened the security of each state and deepened bilateral relations with other members. 
  3. European Union membership for Slovenia (2004) and Croatia (2013) ensured substantial economic and structural benefits. EU entry underscored that these states had constructed stable democratic systems and market economies.Serbia and Montenegro have begun EU accession talks, Albania and North Macedonia have EU candidacy status, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosova have EU Stabilization and Association Agreements. 
  4. State independence for Kosova (2008) removed uncertainties over its final status, reassured its majority population that had been subject to mass murders and expulsions, and led to recognition by all but four NATO states as well as 115 countries worldwide. Kosova began to make progress toward entry into several international institutions.  
  5. The Ohrid Framework Agreement (2001) helped to stabilize the country by ensuring greater integration of the Albanian population into Macedonia’s political system and governing structures at both national and local levels.
  6. The Prespa Accords (2018) resolved the name dispute between Athens and Skopje, whereby Macedonia agreed to rename itself as North Macedonia and Greece no longer blocked its progress toward NATO and EU membership.
  7. Regional cooperation has been enhanced through trade agreements, greater energy diversification, improved cross-border transportation networks, and the settling of several border questions, including Slovenia-Croatia, Croatia-Montenegro, Kosova-Montenegro, and North-Macedonia-Kosova.
  8. The Brussels Agreement (2013) initiated constructive talks between Serbia and Kosova and ensured progress in resolving several outstanding disputes over property, energy, telecom, and other practical issues. Its intent was to more closely integrate the Serbian community into Kosova’s state institutions and to develop cooperative relations between Serbia and Kosova.

Much of this regional progress has been driven by a consistent U.S. policy to bring the entire peninsula under the umbrella of a secure Western alliance. It was accomplished through close policy coordination with European Union representatives seeking to bring the entire region into the EU. 

Unfinished West Balkan Business

Despite significant progress in the past 25 years, much of the West Balkan region cannot be considered comprehensively secured until several obstacles are removed. The lack of resolution compounds the region’s problems, visible in economic stagnation, official corruption, social instability, ethnic tensions, and population outflows. International attention needs to focus on the following disputes and problem areas:

  1. Dysfunctional Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnia-Herzegovina is a politically frozen state veering toward renewed ethnic conflict. Dayton created a complex administrative structure in which ethnic balancing predominates and layers of governmental bureaucracy contributes to inefficiency and budgetary burdens. This system has obstructed effective decision-making, where ethno-national interests predominate over civil-state interests. Bosnia is not a multi-ethnic country but an association of ethnic fiefdoms, in which nationalist parties maintain the status quo to protect their spoils and patronage networks.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has no effective central government, the Serbian entity persistently threatens to secede, Croatian nationalists increasingly demand a third entity, and Bosniaks are trapped frustrated in the middle. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has threatened to torpedo a number of state-wide reforms, including the formation of joint armed forces, a state court, and police agency, while questioning other competencies transferred from the two entities to state level. In this climate of state paralysis, the Serbian entity has steadily moved from autonomy toward sovereignty and its leaders, with Moscow’s financial and political support, has raised the prospect of separation and unification with Serbia. This has tempted some Bosnian Croat politicians to call for a third entity and the partition of the Bosnian Federation. Meanwhile, Bosniak Muslim leaders have warned about a new war as they are committed to defending Bosnia’s territorial and constitutional integrity.

The precarious status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely especially if economic conditions further deteriorate. Economic decline, state bankruptcy, and social desperation will further exacerbate nationalist radicalization, while ethno-nationalist leaders will have fewer resources to offer citizens. This can exacerbate turf battles in which a unified government will prove even more difficult to forge and the separatist option will become more appealing. 

A durable solution requires more intense involvement by international actors, especially by the United States which has substantial credibility as an honest broker. The results of such mediation would necessitate an overhaul of the constitution to limit or eliminate entity vetoes and ethnic voting. Bosnia’s ethno-politics has stymied the development of state citizenship, programmatic pluralism, individual rights, and a competitive democracy. International actors who continue to dispense funds to Bosnia must also more effectively tackle endemic official corruption, inadequate rule of law, and authoritarian tendencies among leaders of all three national groups.Politicians seeking a more cohesive state that guarantees equal citizenship regardless of ethnicity should no longer be sidelined. 

  • Kosova-Serbia Dispute: The frozen talks between Serbia and Kosova need to be revived if both countries are to make any progress into international institutions. The persistent failures to reach an agreement on bilateral normalization are heightening fears of political radicalism and regional instability. And without a more prominent American role, the EU looks incapable of making any significant progress. Hence, the appointment of two U.S. envoys is an important step forward. The revived talks have to be based on two clear principles. First, Kosova’s final status was settled over a decade ago when it declared independence and cannot be revisited without sparking chaos and conflict. Second, Serbia and Kosova need cooperative bilateral relations to promote their own self-interests in moving into key multi-national organizations.

In an ideal scenario, “normalization” would mean Serbia formally recognizing Kosova as an independent state and establishing full diplomatic relations. This is unlikely to occur any time soon even if Serbia would benefit from extensive international support for such a constructive initiative. The easier bilateral deals within the 2013 Brussels Agreement have already been achieved and without tackling the more difficult problems Serbia-Kosova relations will come to a standstill. The new American envoys may be open to land swaps or the exchange of Kosova’s northern municipalities containing Serbian majorities for Belgrade’s recognition of Kosova’s statehood. However, they are likely to face significant political obstacles, as the new government in Prishtina could lose much of its public support if it surrenders territory to Belgrade. Similarly, the Serbian government is unlikely to yield orexchange any territory in the Presevo valley, which contains Albanian majorities, especially with parliamentary elections looming in April 2020.

The one viable strategy is for both sides to undertake a number of important steps toward each other that would be part of a “normalization package.” This would entail ending the current bilateral negatives and implementing several positives.

For Prishtina, ending negatives would mean lifting the burdensome tariffs on Serbian goods and agreeing not to block visits by Serbian officials to northern Kosova if Prishtina is notified in advance. The positives can include reaffirming the importance of Serbian Orthodox religious sites and even providing them with a special status as internationally protected shrines. It can also mean implementing the agreement on the Association of Serbian Municipalities, while making sure this structure has no centralized executive functions that would promote territorial autonomy and paralyze the state. Bosnia-Herzegovina must not be replicated. 

For Serbia, ending negatives would entail unblocking opposition to Kosova’s entry into international institutions such as Interpol, UNESCO, or the Council of Europe. It can also cease pursuing Kosova’s de-recognition by foreign governments susceptible to bribery. The most important positive, short of outright recognition, would be for Serbia to drop its objections to Kosova gaining a seat in the United Nations General Assembly. This step could help convince the five remaining EU states to recognize Kosova. It would also demonstrate Serbia’s independence from Russia, which uses its blocking tactics in the UN as leverage over Belgrade. Simultaneously, Prishtina can play a positive role by declaring that the progress made in the “normalization package” should certify Serbia’s compliance with Chapter 35 in its EU accession agenda. This display of bilateral goodwill grounded in self-interest would hasten Belgrade’s progress toward meeting the criteria for EU entry. 

Washington must be closely involved throughout the normalization process and the appointment of two special envoys, Ambassador Richard Grenell for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, and Matt Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, for the broader region, indicates that Washington seeks new momentum to normalize relations between the two states. Given the standstill over the past year, it is doubtful that Belgrade and Prishtina would hammer out an agreement without renewed American involvement.

  • EU Blockage: EU accession remains an ambition in much of the region because of the benefits that this provides new members, including accession funds and investments. Although several countries are candidates for the Union, progress has been stalled because the EU is preoccupied with internal problems. The EU summit in Brussels on October 18, 2019 failed to announce the start of accession talks for North Macedonia and Albania. This is despite the fact that the European Commission declared in May 2019 that both countries had made sufficient progress in their reforms as EU “candidate states.” Such decisions have several negative repercussions. They damage EU credibility; disillusion citizens; nurture the notion that the EU is complicit in upholding corrupt governments in exchange for a measure of stability; contribute to domestic political polarization; undermine state reform programs; encourage nationalists, populists, separatists, and irredentists; and provide more openings to hostile foreign interference. Paradoxically, a negative decision on accession talks and further enlargement will ultimately rebound negatively on the security of the European Union itself.
  • Russia’s and China’s Subversion: The Balkan peninsula remains NATO’s internal frontier where Moscow can challenge U.S. and European interests and project its Eurasian agenda. The Kremlin views the Western Balkans as Europe’s weakest flank and a subversion zone where competition with NATO and the U.S. can be increased, latent conflicts manipulated, potential new allies found, and economic opportunities exploited. Russia pursues five main inroads in the region:

First, it promotes local nationalisms to undermine support for NATO, the U.S., and the EU and stir conflicts between rival nationalist projects. Second, it corrupts national politicians and local businessmen to favor Russian economic interests, support Moscow’s foreign agenda, and oppose Western policies such as sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Third, it fosters energy dependence by tying Balkan countries into Russian supplies and pipelines in order to gain political leverage. Fourth, it engages in propaganda offensives through local media, internet, and social networks to enhance Russia’s stature and undermine Western values and institutions. And fifth, it pursues numerous inter-societal connections that increase Moscow’s influences, including Orthodox Churches, political parties, cultural organizations, historical societies, and sports clubs.

The Kremlin benefits from frozen conflicts and frozen states. In Bosnia-Herzegovina it encourages the Serbian entity to keep the country divided and question its future as a single state. In Kosova, Russian officials claim the Serbian population is repressed in order to undermine Kosova’s independence and raise the specter of partition or re-absorption by Serbia. Kosova is blocked from entering the UN primarily by Russia’s opposition. Unresolved conflicts and disputed states also enable the Kremlin to claim that NATO has failed to stabilize the region and to slow down West Balkan progress toward EU integration. 

Moscow will calculate how it can derail any new American initiative if this is intended to culminate in Kosova’s UN membership and recognition by Serbia. Putin’s Kremlin does not welcome agreements that generate stability in the region and enhance prospects for NATO and EU integration. Moscow may even appoint its own Balkan envoy or demand an equal voice in the upcoming negotiations. However, it is worth remembering that the only successful agreements implemented in the region are those where Moscow played no role, including Dayton, Ohrid, and Prespa. Any durable accord between Kosova and Serbia must remain free from Kremlin interference.

The Chinese regime has no design to capture territory or impose its system of government on states outside its immediate sphere of influence. Instead, it has three main goals toward southeast Europe. First, it seeks to expand China’s economic reach through trade and investment. Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative linking China with Europe envisages the Balkan Peninsula as a focal point for maritime and overland routes into Europe. Chinese companies purchase cargo terminals and finance roads and railways throughout southeast Europe and its loans and export credits become debt traps. Although Balkan governments welcome investments that rescue declining industries, they are vulnerable to predatory lending and the surrender of national infrastructure. 

Second, Beijing leverages economic penetration into political influence. In exchange for financial investments, Beijing seeks Balkan and European diplomatic support for its policies or to mute criticism of China in international institutions. And third, China aims to diminish U.S. political influences. It has developed significant convergence with Moscow in such areas as anti-democracy promotion, diplomatic offensives, and anti-American disinformation campaigns. 

While seeking to resolve the outstanding disputes in the Western Balkans, U.S. policy makers cannot lose sight of the growing dangers to regional security and Western integration from both Russia and China. Russia’s subversion in particular can only be reversed through an extensive strategic offensive. Moscow’s presence is not simply malign; it is destabilizing and dangerous and could unravel much of what has been accomplished in the region during the last twenty years. I am submitting to the Committee a recent report I published with the Baltic Defense University on conducting a multi-pronged offensive against Moscow rather than simply playing a static defense. Entitled “Winning the Shadow War with Russia” it details six major arenas for action: Exposing Influence Operations; Countering Informational Offensives; Cyber Defense and Counter-Attack; Economic and Financial Penalties; Military and Security Instruments; and Managing Russia’s Dissolution.

Bugajski Speaks at CEPA Forum, Washington DC
Closing Capstone: The Future of the Transatlantic Alliance

To conclude this year’s Forum, CEPA President Peter B. Doran and CEPA Senior Fellow Janusz Bugajskisummarized the main takeaways from the event and offered hope for the future. The unifying theme of the Forum was that to compete and win against rising and restive rivals, a renewal of the transatlantic relationship is needed – and this year’s Forum offered a meaningful step in this process. By remembering what the West has accomplished over the last thirty years, the Alliance should be optimistic about the future and realize the importance of what it is defending. Read more. 

Bugajski Testifies to US Senate

On September 17, 2019, Janusz Bugajski testified to the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

Russia and China Fomenting Instability in Southeast Europe and Undermining U.S. National Interests

Janusz BugajskiSenior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), Washington D.C. 

Chairman Joni Ernst, Ranking Member Gary Peters, and members of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today about the escalating threats from Russia and China in Southeastern Europe.

I must commend the committee on the timing of this hearing. Today is the 80thanniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in an alliance with Hitler’s Germany to carve up Central-Eastern Europe. 80 years later Vladimir Putin’s Russia is still carving and one of its targets is the Balkan peninsula. For Moscow, southeastern Europe provide an opportunity to undermine Western unity and extend Russia’s influence. China is also pursuing a strategy of expansion by exploiting Balkan volatility, poor economic performance, and limited Western integration.

While Russia remains the main near-term adversary of the West, China is developing into a more formidable long-term threat. Russia is a revisionist aggressor trying to subvert the trans-Atlantic world but its capabilities will decline in the midst of internal turmoil and a looming succession crisis. In contrast, China is a steadily growing global competitor with a strong economy and a durable strategy designed to surpass Europe and America.

Russia-China Anti-Western Axis

  1. China and Russia are strategic partners intent on weakening Western cohesion. Beijing benefits from Moscow’s disruptive actions that distract the U.S. from China’s ascendancy, and Chinese economic leverage can undermine NATO’s collective response to a Russian attack. In a worst-case scenario, both states may coordinate a simultaneous military offensive against neighbors – for instance, Ukraine and Taiwan respectively – calculating that this would disperse and dilute America’s reaction.
  • Although predatory powers such as Russia and China may cooperate against a third party they are always mindful of competition and encroachment on each other’s domains. This can turn partners into rivals, especially where the weaker party becomes economically or militarily dependent. Russia’s capabilities will diminish and China will present a major threat to Moscow’s Eurasian aspirations by reorienting Central Asia away from its orbit and challenging Russia’s territorial integrity in Siberia and the Pacific Coast where the Chinese population is growing.
  • Washington should not be distracted by China’s rising ambitions by failing to tackle Russia’s current shadow war against Western integrity. To secure its national security and defend its allies and partners, the U.S. needs to develop a strategy of leverage that promotes discord and division between Russia and China, its two major adversaries. A strategy of “divide and rule” is long overdue in American foreign policy. 

Russia’s Strategy and Objectives

  1. Moscow’s broad strategic objective is to reverse the transformations of the post-Cold War era during which Russia lost its satellites, forfeited its regional predominance, and relinquished its global role. A key element of Russia’s strategy is to expand a Eurasian “pole of power” to ensure its primary influence in neighboring states and in regions where it was historically active.
  • Moscow’s strategic objective necessitates weakening NATO’s security posture throughout Europe, dividing and fracturing the European Union, splitting the U.S. from its European allies, and eroding America’s global influence by undermining its political system and discrediting its leadership role.
  • To compensate for its military and economic weakness vis-à-vis the West, Moscow deploys a broad arsenal of political, financial, economic, and informational tools to achieve its objectives. It systematically capitalizes on Western vulnerabilities, whether through cyber attacks, disinformation, corruption, blackmail, social disruption, or other “soft power” weapons.

Russia’s Offensives in the Western Balkans

The Balkan peninsula is NATO’s internal frontier where Moscow can challenge U.S. and European interests and project its Eurasian agenda. The Kremlin views the Western Balkans as Europe’s weakest flank and a subversion zone where competition with NATO and the U.S. can be increased, latent conflicts manipulated, potential new allies found, and economic opportunities exploited. Russia pursues five main inroads in the region.

  1. Promoting local nationalisms to undermine support for NATO, the U.S. and the EU, to mobilize backing for Moscow, and to stir conflicts between rival nationalist projects enabling the Kremlin to offer targeted assistance.
  • Corrupting national politicians and local businessmen to favor Russian economic interests, enable greater societal penetration, to support Moscow’s foreign agenda, and oppose Western policies such as sanctions against Russia.
  • Fostering energy dependence by tying Balkan countries into gas projects controlled by Gazprom, and buying into local pipelines, refineries, and other energy facilities. Energy dependence is exploited to gain diplomatic and political leverage. Other economic sectors where Moscow seeks influence include metallurgy, arms supplies, banking, and real estate.
  • Launching propaganda offensives through local media, internet, and social networks to enhance Russia’s position and undermine Western institutions. Various messages are intended to appeal either to anti-globalist, Euro-skeptic, and anti-American sentiments or to ultra-conservative and religious orthodox constituencies in which Russia poses as the defender of traditional values and the EU and U.S. are depicted as immoral and deviant.
  • Forging numerous inter-societal connections that increase Moscow’s political influences. These include Orthodox Churches, political parties, cultural organizations, historical societies, sports clubs, and lifestyle groups, including bikers clubs, gun lobbies, and paramilitary survivalist groups. 

The Kremlinbenefits from frozen conflicts and frozen states. In Bosnia-Herzegovina itencourages the Serbian entity to keep the country divided and question its future as a single state. In Kosova, Russian officials claim the Serbian population isrepressed in order to undermine Kosova’s independence and raisethe specter of partition. Kosova is blocked from entering the UN, primarily by Russia’s opposition. Unresolved conflicts and disputed states enable the Kremlin to claim that NATO has failed to stabilize the regionand slow down West Balkan progresstoward EU integration. This benefits Moscow by forestallingthe implementation of the Union’s legal standards and facilitatingthe corruption of national leaders. 

The promotion of Balkan instability distracts attention from Moscow’s offensives elsewhere. Intensifying disputes can preoccupy Western diplomacy and give the Kremlin a freer hand to pursue its neo-imperial objectives in the former Soviet Union.However, Moscow has also suffered several significant Balkan defeats, including Kosova’s independence, Montenegro’s NATO membership, the resolution of the Macedonian-Greek dispute, and North Macedonia’s pending entry into NATO.  Much of this progress is driven by a consistent U.S. policy to bring the entire peninsula into a secure Western alliance. 

China’s Penetration of Southeast Europe

The Chinese regime has no design to capture territory or impose its system of government on states outside its immediate sphere of influence. Instead, it has three main goals as demonstrated in its policy toward southeast Europe.

  1. Expanding China’s economic reach to affect global standards for trade and investment that favor Beijing over its competitors. Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative linking China with Europe envisages the Balkan Peninsula as a focal point for maritime and overland routes into Europe. Chinese companies purchase cargo terminals and finance roads and railways throughout southeast Europe. Its investments ignore EU procurement regulations and its loans and export credits are debt traps often tied to the employment of Chinese companies and labor. Although Balkan governments welcome investments that rescue declining industries, they are vulnerable to predatory lending and the surrender of national infrastructure. 
  • Leveraging economic penetration into political influence. In exchange for financial investments, Beijing seeks Balkan diplomatic support for its policies or muted criticism in international institutions. Its investments in the Greek port of Piraeus help ensure that Athens dilutes EU condemnations of China’s human rights record and its ambitions in the South China Sea. This formula is repeated across Europe with Beijing aiming to divide Europe from the U.S. and prevent the emergence of an anti-China front. 
  • Diminishing U.S. influence and undercutting EU enlargement. China and Russia have developed significant convergence in such areas as anti-democracy promotion, diplomatic offensives, and disinformation campaigns. China’s ambitions are also evident in expanding intelligence activities and cyber hacking.

Balkan Flashpoints 

Several flashpoints in the Western Balkans could precipitate a wider crisis and are fuelled by a number of destabilizing factors.

  1. Danger that the deadlock in Bosnia-Herzegovina may spiral into a more menacing conflict.Bosnia’s status quo is not indefinite and the ingredients are present for another violent implosion. There is no functioning central government between election cycles, the Serbian entity threatens to secede, Croat nationalists are demanding a third entity, and Bosniaks are caught frustrated in the middle as the economy stagnates. In one scenario, Bosnian Serb leaders may reject key reforms that stitch the country together, withdraw representatives from the central government, and announce a referendum on independence. Such moves could trigger renewed violence. 
  • The Kosova-Serbia dialogue has stalemated and a process of normalization is needed that can lead to bilateral recognition. If the current standoff is not resolved it may encourage nationalist and irredentist forces on both sides. Belgrade and Prishtina should take steps to de-escalate their disputes. For instance, Prishtina can lift its tariffs against Serbia and Belgrade can lift its blockage of Kosova in entering international institutions. The question of territorial exchanges can contribute to domestic and inter-state disputes if its feasibility is not openly debated. The new U.S. Special Representative can reinvigorate the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue, but he will face stiff local resistance, weak EU leadership, and Russian sabotage.
  • The region confronts persistent corroding influences, including corruption, clientalism, and partisan polarization. These are flawed democracies, whereby a party that wins elections gains control of all institutions and unmonitored access to state funds that benefit party loyalists. Youth unemployment and out-migration remains high and public frustration with corrupt and incompetent governments is rising. Conversely, economic growth is contingent on political legitimacy, the rule of law, social stability, and investor confidence, all of which are lacking in much of the region.
  • Blockage in EU membership contributes to regional instability. EU entry is widely supported because of the benefits it bestows, including accession funds and investments. Although several states are EU candidates, the Union has decided on a prolonged pause in its Balkan enlargement. The six aspirant states confront an indefinite limbo that can discourage reform, stimulate EU skepticism, and boost nationalist sentiments. This in turn would provide ammunition for EU politicians who oppose further expansion.
  • Moscow continues to undermine regional stability and prevent Western integration. Russian diplomats, local agents, and disinformation activists can engage in various provocations, conspiracies, and influence operations. They will encourage intransigence in Belgrade and Bosnia’s Serb entity and probe for new opportunities to create mayhem and test Washington’s resolve.

Impact on U.S. Policy

An unstable and conflictive Balkans undermines U.S. national interests and NATO’s future as a provider of collective security. Washington has invested substantial diplomatic, economic, and military capital in the region and has registered major success in ending two wars, building legitimate states, and including new allies in NATO. A diplomatic retreat would be viewed as a major American defeat and could pull the West into another violent conflict in the years ahead. Russia and China would capitalize on any U.S. failures and gain fresh momentum to subvert other European states. The U.S. National Defense Strategy specifies that strengthening America’s alliances and attracting new partners is crucial for an effective strategy. By working with allies and partners Washington can focus on four objectives in southeast Europe: 

  1. Reinforcing security by assimilating the entire peninsula inside NATO, including North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova, and Serbia. Serbian leaders and military officers will eventually calculate that NATO is the most effective force to enhance Serbia’s military modernization.
  • Resolving the Kosova-Serbia and intra-Bosnian disputes through intense negotiations and the offer of concrete incentives and disincentives. The appointment of a U.S. Special Representative is an important step forward, as long as he has the authority to make key decisions.
  • Containing China byimplementing policies that limit Chinese investments but without damaging the economic development of affected countries. Western competiveness in foreign markets needs to be boosted and alternative sources of infrastructure financing made available. China’s investments must be made more transparent, adhere to international standards, and not push governments into becoming indentured debtors. 
  • Reversing Russia’s influences in Europe through an intensive and extensive strategic offensive. Moscow’s presence is not simply malign, but destabilizing and dangerous. I am submitting to the Committee a recent report I published with the Baltic Defense University on conducting a multi-pronged offensive against Moscow rather than simply playing a static defense. Entitled “Winning the Shadow War with Russia” it details six major arenas: Exposing Influence Operations; Countering Informational Offensives; Cyber Defense and Counter-Attack; Economic and Financial Penalties; Military and Security Instruments; and Managing Russia’s Dissolution.

Bugajski Spoke at US-Ukraine Event at the National Press Club,

US-Ukraine Security Dialogue X:

Taking Measure of Russia’s Hybrid War Against Ukraine February 28, 2019

Venue:  National Press Club – 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington DC

3:50 pm – 5:00 pm – Dialogue Panel Discussion IV

Theme:  Informational Warfare as a Component

Bugajski Moderated the Keynote Address by Timothy Garton Ash at the CEPA Forum



Bugajski in Washington Times on Importance of Azerbaijan

Janusz Bugajski in The Washington Times on Why Azerbaijan Matters for the West
9 April 2018

Bugajski gives Congressional Briefing

U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)

Growing Russian Influence and Pressures on Atlanticism 
On February 27, 2018 CEPA hosted an exclusive, closed-door briefing for Members of the CEE Caucuses, organized in conjunction with the Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). This briefing featured insights from Réka Szemerkényi, Executive Vice President of CEPA, Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow at CEPA, and Donald N. Jensen, Senior Fellow at CEPA.

Bugajski in The Wall Street Journal on Russia’s Elections

Fight Putin With Fire

Moscow reportedly plans to interfere with another U.S. election. Russia has an election coming up too.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb. 9.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb. 9. PHOTO: KREMLIN POOL/ZUMA PRESS

The Central Intelligence Agency has reported that Moscow is preparing to interfere in November’s midterm elections. On the theory that the best defense is a good offense, why shouldn’t Washington consider launching a cyberoffensive against the Kremlin? A targeted onslaught could disrupt the stability of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Russia faces a presidential election March 18. The result is already decided— Mr. Putin will win—but the country is vulnerable to cyberpenetration. A key component of a covert assault would be to hack and disseminate official Russian communications, with a focus on the Kremlin, government ministries, Parliament, key businesses and subservient political parties, as well as private correspondence between officials.

Although the regime controls the major media outlets, potentially incendiary leaks can be circulated through social media, a favorite instrument of Kremlin disinformation in the West. The objective would be to disclose publicly the most provocative scandals of Russia’s top officials and the extent of their corrupt governance, opulent lifestyles, public lies, and contempt for ordinary citizens.

Especially valuable would be messages that reveal the willingness of officials, oligarchs and bureaucrats to betray the country for personal gain. Western intelligence services certainly possess more comprehensive information about the theft of the Russian budget than does even Alexei Navalny, the anticorruption campaigner barred from standing in the election.

A U.S. offensive could be extended beyond the election as part of a broader psychological influence operation. Such a strategy would have two core objectives: alienating the public from the regime and provoking power struggles inside the ruling stratum. Detailed revelations about official treason and financial abuse can fuel social, ethnic, regional and religious unrest—especially as living standards for the masses continue to plunge. Regime change would then become the responsibility of the exploited and manipulated Russian citizens.

Simultaneously, disclosures about conflicts within the ruling elite would generate uncertainty and anxiety in government circles and expose the regime’s political vulnerabilities. Even if that doesn’t immediately precipitate Mr. Putin’s downfall, it could help divert the Kremlin from its unchallenged cyberwar against Western democracies.

Some will caution that such an offensive against Moscow would be provocative and would escalate disputes between the U.S. and Russia. The Kremlin, however, perceives the lack of an effective U.S. response to its election meddling as weakness and vulnerability. The assault on American democracy continues to this day primarily because of an inadequate counterattack and the limited impact of financial sanctions against Russian officials.

Besides, Moscow will accuse America of interfering in its elections anyway. Washington might as well accomplish something.

Mr. Bugajski is a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington and co-author, with Margarita Assenova, of “Eurasian Disunion: Russia’s Vulnerable Flanks” (Jamestown Foundation, 2016).

Bugajski Article on the Visegrad States


Bugajski/Assenova book quoted in US Senate Report on Russia,


15TH CONGRESS ” COMMITTEE PRINT ! S. PRT. 2d Session 115–21








JANUARY 10, 2018

Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations

Available via World Wide Web:



Bugajski Moderated Panel at Atlantic Council Conference on Balkans in Washington DC

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Atlantic Council Headquarters

1030 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005

 A Coming Storm? Shaping a Balkan

Future in an Era of Uncertainty


8:30 a.m.                    Registration Opens

Light breakfast will be provided


9:00 – 9:40 a.m.          Welcoming Remarks and Scene Setter


Welcome: Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council (confirmed)


Scene Setter:

Damir Marusic, Executive Editor, The American Interest (confirmed)

Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Programs and Strategy, Atlantic Council (confirmed)


9:40 – 10:00 a.m.        Keynote Remarks – US Policy in the Balkans: Progress and Challenges   


10:00 – 11:15 a.m.      Panel 1 – Shifting Alliances and the Return of Great Power Politics: Managing the New Geostrategic Landscape in Southeast Europe

In recent years, Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East have been perceived to expand their influence in the Balkans. What impact will this have on the region’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations in NATO and the EU? What should the United States and European Union do, if anything, to shape this new strategic landscape?


Dimitar Bechev, Research Fellow, Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (confirmed)

Molly McKew, President, Fianna Strategies (confirmed)

Molly Montgomery, Special Advisor for Europe and Russia, Office of the Vice President (invited)


Moderator: Barbara Surk, Contributing Writer, New York Times (confirmed)


11:15 – 11:30 a.m.      Coffee Break


11:30 – 12:45 p.m.      Panel 2 – Investing in the Future: Can Entrepreneurs “Fix” the Balkans?

The Western Balkan region has some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest wages in Europe, a situation with well-documented economic and political ramifications. What are the greatest barriers to investment and economic growth, and what can countries do to overcome them? How can the region effectively foster the next generation of entrepreneurs to drive positive economic change moving forward? What role does US and European investment play in the region?             

Mark Boris Andrijanic, Public Policy, Central and Eastern Europe, Uber (confirmed)

H.E. Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia (confirmed)

Cyril Muller, Vice President, Europe and Central Asia, The World Bank (confirmed)

H.E. Behgjet Pacolli, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo (confirmed)

Marija Zivanovic-Smith, Corporate VP, Marketing, Communications, and Government Relations, NCR Corporation (invited)


Moderator: Amb. Robert S. Gelbard, Chairman, Gelbard International Consulting (confirmed)


Closing remarks:

The Hon. Ron Johnson, US Senator (invited)


12:45 – 2:00 p.m.        Lunch Break

Lunch will be available to all participants


2:00 – 3:15 p.m.          Panel 3 – Great Risk, Great Reward: Tackling the Balkans’ Enduring Political Challenges

Despite significant regional progress, a series of political disputes continue to overshadow positive developments. The ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina over their bilateral relations, the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, and the internal political turmoil in Bosnia and Herzegovina are all major impediments to the region’s stability. What kind of effort is needed to break through these barriers? How much should the international community be involved?


H.E. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia (confirmed)

H.E. Enver Hoxhaj, Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo (confirmed)

Astrit Istrefi, Executive Director, The Balkan Forum (confirmed)

The Hon. Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State (confirmed)


Moderator: Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis (confirmed)


3:15 – 3:30 p.m.          Coffee Break


3:30 – 4:45 p.m.          Panel 4 – Going the Distance: The US-EU Partnership in the Balkans and Prospects for Euro-Atlantic Integration

                                    The United States and the European Union have long worked hand-in-hand to drive political and economic reform and encourage stability in the Balkans. As the United States reassesses its foreign policy priorities, and the European Union is forced to address its own internal dynamic, to what extent can/should the US and EU be involved in the region to avoid backsliding and re-incentivize forward progress? What specific steps do EU aspirant countries from the Balkans need to take in the next five years in order to maintain momentum in the accession process?


                                    Opening remarks:

The Hon. Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator (confirmed)



                                    H.E. Ditmir Bushati, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania (confirmed)

Rosemary di Carlo, President, National Committee on American Foreign Policy (confirmed)

H.E. Srdjan Darmanović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro (confirmed)

Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans (confirmed)


4:45 – 6:00 p.m.          Panel 5 – NATO in the Balkans: Securing the Frontiers of Europe in Turbulent Times

Over the past decade, NATO’s engagement with the Western Balkan region has increasingly moved from peacekeeping to support for reforms associated with the region’s Euro-Atlantic integration. What is next for NATO in the Balkans? How should NATO’s regional policy evolve over the next 5-10 years, and what specific strategies should the Alliance prioritize to ensure a stable and prosperous region over the long term? How can NATO best play a constructive role in developing Balkan countries’ own capabilities to effectively address the security challenges they face?


The Hon. Thomas Goffus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, US Department of Defense (invited)

Jasmin Mujanović, Fellow, EastWest Institute (confirmed)

Milica Pejanović-Djurišić, former Minister of Defense; Member of the Governance Board, Atlantic Council of Montenegro (confirmed)

Rear Admiral Murray Joe Tynch, III, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters, Joint Force Command Naples (invited)

Alexander Vershbow, Distinguished Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council (confirmed)


6:00 – 6:15 p.m.          Closing Remarks


Bugajski Chairs Panel at Ukrainian Conference

Ukraine’s Quest for Mature Nation Statehood Roundtable XVIII:
Ukraine and the Issue of Social Cohesion, 1777 F Street NW/Washington DC, 1st Floor Conference Hall

October 12, 2017 1:30 PM – 3:15  PM    Second Panel Discussion — Can a Value-Based National Agenda Help Heal Ukraine’s Social Fissures?

1:30 PM – 3:15 PM                      Second Panel Discussion


Theme: Can a Value-Based National Agenda Help Heal Ukraine’s Social Fissures?


Moderator:     Janusz Bugajski [Senior Research Fellow/Center for European Policy Analysis]

Panelists:        Luke Coffey [Director/Allison Center on Foreign Policy/Heritage Foundation]
Anders Aslund [Senior Fellow/Atlantic Council of the United States]
Phillip Karber [President/Potomac Foundation]

Orest Deychakiwsky [Senior Policy Advisor [ret.]/US Helsinki Commission]

William Taylor [Executive Vice President/United States Institute of Peace]