Croatia is in the clutches of Russia

By: Dženana Karup Druško

Politicians, but also civil society in Croatia, the media, academia and NGOs (which is autistic unless something is about themselves), kept silent about the statements of the Russian ambassador to Croatia from three months ago, according to which there was a civilian war in Croatia and the actions Storm and Flash of are "great anti-Orthodox conspiracies", which clearly shows the impact (and fear) of "friendly" Russian policy in (European) Croatia in which the Russian Federation controls everything from drinking water sources to major food producers , to the most powerful energy companies. And wasn't that an ideal opportunity for Milanović, who declared himself the guardian of Croatian shrines, to react. But it's not. Like other officials. The problem seems to be with Sarajevans, Bosniaks and Bosnians, who, unlike Milanović and Čović, do not want, and cannot „sell“ their shrines and victims for Russian investments and agree on the Russian influence, even when they even feel that the West is unjust towards them.

After the scandal caused by his statements about the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina committed by Serbian forces during the war, which was confirmed by two UN courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice, instead of apology Zoran Milanovic, President of Croatia, continues with their revisionist theses, confirming that they were not uttered by chance at all for the first time, insidiously placing them in the context of war crimes and the Holocaust in World War II.

According to the analysis of the Slovenian Ifimes, the denial of (Inzko's) law, which protects the highest international values, such as the Nuremberg verdicts and all other verdicts against the Nazis, but also the ICTY verdicts, is a current reflection of the political situation in the EU. Russia's aid brings together all political options from the far-right political orientation, from pro-fascist groups from Austria, Italy, Spain, Poland, France, the Netherlands to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and some Western Balkan leaders. These are the defeated ideologies from the Second World War, but also the defeated fascist policies of Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman, who were marked by the Hague Tribunal as the bearers of criminal projects. European fascist and pro-fascist great-power policies were defeated on the scene, which are currently being united as,  with the help of SNSD, as the carrier of the politics of Radovan Karadžić and Slobodan Milošević, and HDZ as the original carrier of the Tuđman great-power project, and wish to undermine the foundations of the international law, i.e. the acquis of the international courts, which judged the fascist politics, which committed a Holocaust in Europe and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Milanovic's ties to Putin's regime

Commenting on Milanovic's speeches, Davor Gjenero, a political analyst from Croatia, said it was a deliberate political strategy and said that "Milanovic obviously has, for now, not entirely open, but prepared, combinations with the totalitarian regime of Vladimir Putin."Only Russia likes the creation of chaos and instability on the edge of the European Union, and what Milanovic is doing seems to have been designed in the Kremlin's laboratories of evil."

Why does Milanovic, as the president of a country that is a member of the European Union and a member of NATO, support Russian policy in the Balkans?

The Balkans, as a part of Southeast Europe, is geostrategically important to the Russian Federation because, as Bugajski writes, it represents the entrance to the Adriatic and Mediterranean area, the connection between Europe and Asia, but also a precondition for penetration into Central Europe. And the strong presence of Russia in Serbia and the Bosnian entity of Republic of Srpska, through which the Kremlin is causing crises and seriously disrupting security in the Balkans, is not enough for that. An eventual alliance of the Balkan states would strengthen the US position in the Balkans and the stability and defence of Europe, which Russia does not want to allow and why it is blocking the European and Atlantic integration of the Balkan states, and on the other hand, the influence in some European countries, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia. 

NATO guarantees security to its members, but they must fight subversive action more or less independently, whether it is serious intelligence or foreign economic influence, especially if it proves to be as benevolent as Russia, creating allies that they follow in its policy, making maximum use of their intelligence services and economic and energy policies, which are the perfect ground for corruption, i.e. bribing politicians and individuals who can help achieve Russia's goals. Thus, Russia, although far from being the leading economic player in the Balkans (where the European Union invests many times more funds), uses its investments to the maximum for political influence and propaganda.

An illustrative example of this is Croatia, which, as an EU member, has access to all European funds, and which has nevertheless become dependent on the money of Russian banks, which have taken control of all important production resources, while the energy sector is completely subordinated to Russian companies. Rarely in Croatia can one find criticism of Russian policy in the Balkans, both from politicians and civil society - the media, academia and NGOs, which, with exceptions, have kept silent about Milanovic's shameful relativization of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, if it is known that the same structures have kept silent about the statements of the Russian ambassador to Croatia from three months ago, according to which there was a civil war in Croatia, and the actions Storm and Flash "great anti-Orthodox conspiracies", it is clear how big is the influence (and fear) from the Russian politics in Croatia in which the Russian Federation is controlling everything, from the sources of the drinking water, to the greatest producers of food, to the most powerful energetic companies.

Wasn't that an ideal opportunity for Milanović, who declared himself the guardian of Croatian shrines, to react. Obviously not. Neither do other officials. It seems that the problem is with Sarajevans, Bosniaks and Bosnians, who, unlike Milanovic, do not want and cannot "sell" their victims and shrines for Russian investments and agree to know Russian influence, even when, perhaps, they feel that the West unjust to them. 

Russian-Croatian friendship

In addition to criticizing the Homeland War, which does not seem to be as sacred as it is when dealing with Croatia's neighbours and "minorities", the Russian ambassador "friendly" told them in that interview what all Russian property is in Croatia: “We welcome the relationship between the Government of Croatia and the Forten Group, which was built during a difficult period and has a strategic, partnership and friendly nature. At the same time, the successful activities of Sberbank, whose branch has 32 branches and is represented in all regions of Croatia, cannot be neglected. This bank, like VTB Bank, previously set aside about 1.5 billion euros to support Agrokor, which has been operating under the new name Forten Group since April 1, 2019. At the end of this year, a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Croatian Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation is planned, during which we will discuss the existing projects and agreements we have, as well as jointly identify new promising areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. In this context, I cannot fail to mention our Russian company Lukoil, which is one of the largest Russian investors present on the Croatian market. The Russian company has proven to be a reliable business partner that supplies the country's market with oil and petroleum products of the highest quality. Lukoil's total investments in the Croatian economy amount to almost $ 150 million, and since the Russian company entered the local market in 2008, more than $ 600 million in taxes have been paid into the state budget. I would also like to mention that a number of large Russian entrepreneurs annually invest large sums in your tourism industry. Unfortunately, these investments are not reflected in the statistics of both countries, having in mind that the investments come from the third countries“.

Apart from Agrokor, thanks to which the Russians entered Croatia, the First Gas Company, a distributor of Russian gas for Croatia and a representative of Gazprom, became the largest individual owner of the Port of Ploče, the second largest in Croatia: Gazprom's distributor in Croatia bought ports, railways, strategic companies, and according to some estimates, the Russians already hold about 1/3 of the Croatian portfolio. Russian companies have bought factories in Slavonski Brod and Split, invested in the largest tourist resorts, taken over shipyards, and bought the Pevec retail chain.

Close ties and friendship with Russia, Davor Stern, former Minister of Economy in the HDZ Government and Russian investment lobbyist, explains by fact that during the Homeland War and the Western embargo on the supply of military equipment, large quantities were imported from Russia to Croatia war techniques and materials, such as the MIG 21 squadron or the famous Russian S-300 PMU missile system, helicopters and spare parts, without which the outcomes of war operations would be much more difficult. 

"The European Union is not ready for good relations with Russia, but Russia has good relations with Croatia," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his stay in Zagreb, after Komsic and Dzaferovic refused to meet with him in Sarajevo. 

Russian enclave in the Balkans

As part of its new foreign policy for the Balkans, Russia had the so-called Plan B-4, which meant the creation of a Russian enclave in the Balkans, but that plan in 2018 definitely failed with a series of actions by the West, a failed coup attempt in Montenegro, a change of government in Northern Macedonia. Because of that, Putin fired Sergei Zeleznjak, his main man for the realization of that plan, but a new one started, in which the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska and Croatia had a special place. 

Let us remind you that in 2018, the Dodik-Covic coalition was made official. Only the naive can believe that Covic withdrew his moves and realized the actions (which undermine the stability of BiH) on his own, without the support of Zagreb and the help of Belgrade and Banja Luka. Even then, it was clear that all of Dodik's and Covic's actions were reduced to the control of power by influential political elites in the region, of which they are a part, and which, by maintaining the current political situation, are financially exhausting BiH. 

Due to the coalition with Dodik, Covic was targeted by individuals, but also HVO generals who accused Covic of not protecting any national interests but his own and the group of "falcons" around him, to cooperate with Serbian and Russian intelligence services, and to do so together with the old Udba and KOS-Axis structures that have been incorporated into the current systems of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Among those most frequently mentioned in this context were   Miroslav Miro Music (former director of SOA, radio at the Croatian Embassy in Moscow), Miljan Brkic (gray eminence of the Croatian HDZ, but also BiH), Josip Jurcevic (also worked in the Croatian intelligence service, close to Karamarko, who is associated with the strengthening of Russian influence in Croatia and the gray eminence of all energy affairs in Croatia). 

Some Croatian media explained it as follows: “When analysing the Čolak clan, it is clear that it was one of the strongest during Yugoslavia, and it is especially strong today, because it managed to cover the security system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, infiltrate the largest economic entities in the former Yugoslavia - from Grude, Zagreb to Belgrade, where Stanko Čolak lives. That clan managed to install its henchman Dragan Covic at the head of the Croatian people, at the head of the strongest Croatian party in BiH and at the head of the Croatian National Parliament. " 

Even then, Croatian generals associated their activities with Moscow and Belgrade. But after the apparently successful lobbying of influential individuals from the centers of power, they fell silent. However, the fact is that Covic lost the last elections because a significant part of Croats did not vote for him, as well as because of the large number of Bosniaks who voted for Komsic. Citizens of both Croat and Bosniak nationality punished Covic for his coalition with Dodik, which he completely ignores and continues to produce various crises in order to secure entry into the BiH Presidency at all costs. 

Croatia - a covert Russian player 

Serbia has long been accused of sitting on two chairs: Brussels and Moscow, but Croatia seems to be doing much more successfully than them. a player that Serbia has long been known for. Raising the hands of Dragan Covic, Lidija Bradara and Marina Pendes in Parliament against the law banning the denial of genocide and international verdicts, Milanovic's support for this and the silence of official Zagreb definitely exposed this hitherto covert Russian player in the Balkans as much as they tried to "pack" and hide even through the Croatian Security and Intelligence Agency.

This is confirmed by the latest SOA report for 2020/21. which was reported by almost all media at the end of September, and in which Russian influence in the Western Balkans is mentioned in only one sentence, stating the existence of pro-Russian forces in Montenegro ?! At the same time, they associate political instability in BiH with the disagreement of the constituent peoples over the constitutional order. Russia's influence on SOA is not worrying even in the context of the "economic system" for which, as it admits, it is in charge and what it collects and analyses data on, because these are issues of "national security". 

The informed ones are well informed that SOA was sending similar reports to Brussels, NATO headquarters, completely ignoring Russian actions in the region that seriously undermine security. It is unlikely that this is the incompetence of operatives and analysts of the Croatian Service at a time when all serious Western European services are engaged in Russian subversive activities, and it will be more about protecting Russian interests, or even a serious partnership. How else to interpret that in that report there are no letters about the airport near Trebinje, which, thanks to Dodik who sells state property, is being built by Serbia, and which in many reports of Western services is marked as worrying because there are suspicions that a center which is similar to the one in Niš will be built, where Russian services and paramilitary formations have a strong foothold. It is ironic that the west intelligence services are worried about it, and that Croatia is not even though Serbia is building the airport on the border with Croatia.

On the other hand, the BiH Intelligence and Security Agency is a serious, if not the most serious partner to Western services in the region (as well as NATO in Brussels) because it monitors, analyses and reports on Russian activities in BiH and the region, and blocks their actions. . They do not need any analytical skills to understand that OSA has been targeted by Zagreb and Belgrade for years because of fabricated scandals, which only diminished when attacks began on OSA from certain Sarajevo circles and discrediting of its director.

If the above is kept in mind, it is clear why Covic, Bradara and Pendes raised their hands to support Serbian MPs and vote for the continuation of the Greater Serbia project, i.e. against the Civilization Law which prohibits the denial of genocide and other war crimes, i.e. verdicts of international courts., and it is clear why Milanovic supported them in that. As it is clear that Covic and Milanovic are "Europeans", as they like to present themselves in public, but to the extent of Orban, Zeman, Lukashenko and other authoritarian, Eurosceptic and unbalanced political actors within the EU, said Gjenero, working in coordination with Vladimir Putin's regime. 



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