SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik tried to prevent Bosnia from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Wednesday’s United Nations’ vote, web portal Klix reported.
Bosnia, where there is strong pro-Russian sentiment among Serbs, and Russia’s traditional ally Serbia joined a historic vote in the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday denouncing Russia for invading Ukraine.
But Dodik, who is the Serb member of Bosnia’s inter-ethnic tripartite presidency which makes decisions on the Balkan country’s foreign policy, wanted Bosnia to be neutral regarding the conflict.
Klix reported that Dodik sent a letter to U.N. Secretary- General Antonio Guterres through the body’s Russian mission, asking him to stop the Bosnian ambassador from voting on the resolution because the presidency had not agreed a joint stance on the matter.
Dodik’s foreign policy adviser denied that he tried to stop the vote.
“(He wrote) that the Bosnian presidency did not agree a stance…and wrote what his stance is,” said Ana Trisic-Babic. She declined to confirm if the letter was sent through the Russian mission.
Dodik failed to get the war in Ukraine on to the agenda of Bosnia’s presidency session on Wednesday, with his Bosniak and Croat colleagues saying Bosnia had formed its stance on Ukraine during the earlier conflict there in 2014.
Initiating Bosnia’s worst political crisis since its devastating war in the 1990s, Dodik has taken moves to pull the country’s Serb-dominated region out of key national institutions, such as the military, tax system and judiciary.
His moves have been strongly criticised by the European Union, United States and NATO but supported by Russia.
The EU last week decided to almost double its peacekeeping force in Bosnia as a precautionary measure to stave off any instability after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian embassy in Bosnia has said that Dodik talked with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this week, discussing “plans to intensify efforts” regarding matters agreed with President Vladimir Putin last December. The embassy did not give further details.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)