20. 12. 2023

Links Between the Balkan Far-Right and the War in Ukraine


Asya Metodieva and her colleague Michael Colborne reveal the growing influence of pro-Russian far-right movements in the Western Balkans, leveraging historical narratives amid the Ukraine conflict. The policy paper warns of the risk these extreme views pose to regional and global security.

In the Western Balkans, the far right operates in a social and political context dominated by history, where the violence, traumas and legacies of past wars continue to be instrumentalized to incite and exacerbate tensions in the present. Today the far right in the Western Balkans, particularly the pro-Russian far right, has a new war to instrumentalize and utilize to push their own agenda in the region — Russia’s invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine.

The dual, deeply interconnected narratives of ‘Slavic brotherhood’ and resistance against the West were already long part of both extremist and mainstream discourse across much of the Western Balkans long before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and before Russia’s initial military intervention in Ukraine in 2014. 

This paper argues that pro-Russian far-right elements in the Western Balkans have exploited these two intertwined narratives of Slavic ‘brotherhood’ and strong anti-western sentiment — narratives that, as of late 2023, are finding increasingly fertile soil to grow further across the region. Furthermore, these actors occupy significant space in political and social discourse, particularly on social media, and seek to reframe the Western Balkans’ already fragile security and geopolitical situation in the terms dictating by these longstanding narratives.

The full open-access paper is available in the link below.