Speaking to N1, US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter warned Tuesday that Russia’s considerable malign influence in the Western Balkans will most likely grow in the coming period, but added that the US administration had planned for that and that they had already deployed some of the best people to serve in the region to try to counter this through increased engagement between the US and local governments.
Speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech on May 9, Carpenter said there was nothing new in it.
“I don't really see anything all that interesting in the speech. I think a lot of people were expecting that he might declare war formally. And so that there would be a mass mobilization, but apparently, that has not happened,” he said
When it comes to the humanitarian crisis the Russian invasion of Ukraine had caused, the Ambassador noted that it is a huge problem.
“The scale and scope of both the human tragedy inside Ukraine, but also the humanitarian tragedy with all the refugees flowing outside of Ukraine is immense. You know, unfortunately, the US was correct when we predicted in the months before February 24th, that we expected a massive invasion by Russia in Ukraine,” Carpenter said.
When it comes to the OSCE’s actions and plans for the situation in Ukraine, Carpenter said that “the sad reality that we have today is that Russia is not interested in diplomacy. We launched something here at the OSCE called the renewed European security dialogue, which was a good faith effort by all 57 participating states to try to find workable solutions, to issues of military transparency and confidence-building and risk reduction. Russia walked away from all of that on February 24th when they launched this unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
Ambassador Carpenter expects that Russian malign influence in the Western Balkans will ll continue or even accelerate in the coming months.
“I think the [Biden] administration, when it came into office, had a plan for strengthening our engagement in the Western Balkans. That's why we've sent such talented and experienced diplomats as Chris Hill, as Mike Murphy. I would also note Kathy Kavalec who is serving as OSCE head of mission in Sarajevo. So we've deployed a lot of our best talent to the region,” he noted.