After the British The Times reported that the U.K. will send about 40 military personnel to help EU forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina prevent Russian meddling in the October election, Russia’s Ambassador said this would send the wrong message.
The Times quoted Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson as saying that he will tell his 28 counterparts at a NATO meeting that the move should demonstrate his country’s important role in European security and make sure election in Bosnia is free of “malign external influence.”
Russia has pointed Williamson’s statement out and is aware of the explanation made by the British Embassy that “this mission is not pointed against Russia and that the soldiers are being deployed on request of EUFOR,” Ambassador Petar Ivantsov said, referring to the 600 troops-strong European Union Force in Bosnia.
“Let’s leave the comment about malign influence to the consciousness of the state Secretary, since we have explained our role here several times,” he said.
Ivantsov expressed concern about the deployment, which he sees as unnecessary.
“We see that such plans have laready cause a sharp reaction in Republika Srpska. Sending 40 intelligence specialists is being interpreted as meddling in the election campaign,” he said, adding that the move contradicts the recent conclusions of the Peace Implementation Council which said the election should be fair and free.
The British Embassy told the local SRNA news agency on Friday that the U.K. is not sending 40 soldiers and officers in order to prevent Russia from interfering the election but to reinforce the EUFOR capacities, on request of the force’s commander.
Only four of the 600 soldiers currently serving EUFOR’s mission Altea in Bosnia are from the U.K.