British Psychological Warfare Threatens Balkan Conflict

NATO soldiers patrol a roadblock set up by ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo, on Aug. 1, 2022 Image: Sratfor

Ever since the war in Ukraine began, speculation has swirled about a “second front” opening in the Balkans – in particular, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the country’s internal Republika Srpska at the centre of these concerns. In response, NATO member states have preemptively flooded Sarajevo with troops, and Britain has led the influx.

Oddly, two “experts in counter-disinformation” are part of London’s deployment – they purportedly “work with the Bosnian Armed Forces and NATO to uphold peace and security in the country.” It’s unclear how, although in recent years, British intelligence has used the spectre of battling Russian-borne “disinformation” as a Trojan Horse to further London’s political, military and financial objectives throughout Central and Eastern Europe, in particular the former Yugoslavia, and “weaken the Russian state’s influence.”

Along the way, London has secretly bankrolled and created media outlets to disseminate slick pro-British, pro-NATO, anti-Russian propaganda, and financed ‘fact checkers’ to malign and censor independent journalists and alternative information sources. A remarkably revealing passage in a leaked document related to these efforts acknowledges a key “barrier to combating disinformation” is that “certain Kremlin-backed narratives are factually true.”

Balkan experts strongly caution against the idea Russia would have any desire to start a new conflict in the region, let alone the means, but their entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Western and domestic media ramp up the threat daily, while elite British military think tank RUSI has branded Bosnia and Herzegovina the inevitable frontline of new fracas between the West and Moscow.

Given London not long ago undertook clandestine efforts on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government to terrify its population into submission, and influence their perspectives and behaviour accordingly, it can only be considered deeply concerning that such perceptions are widespread.

‘Agents of Change’

The response of Bosnian authorities to the COVID19 pandemic was stringent, with restrictions imposed following its outbreak among the harshest in Europe by some margin.

There were strict limits on which hours citizens could be outside, with many prohibited from leaving their homes at all under any circumstances, mask-wearing was made obligatory in and outdoors, and more. Countless fines – punitive penalties far exceeding the country’s average monthly pension payment – were issued for non-compliance.

However, most residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina obeyed. Their acquiescence was in part assured by a clandestine British intelligence-orchestrated psychological warfare campaign, which aggressively marketed “COVID-19 prevention measures” to the sceptical public.

British officials and psyops specialists involved in the project

In service of this connivance, which has never before been publicly revealed, London enlisted Albany Associates, a veteran British intelligence cutout. Throughout the West’s dirty war in Syria, Albany was part of a constellation of contractors managing psychological warfare projects, designed to destabilise the government of Bashar Assad, convince Syrians and international bodies CIA and MI6-backed jihadist groups were a “moderate” alternative, and flood media the world over with pro-opposition propaganda.

In the process, its staff frequently rubbed shoulders with members of murderous militias, guilty of innumerable human rights abuses. A scathing internal British government review of these operations, not intended for public consumption, judged they were “poorly planned, probably illegal, and cost lives.” There is no indication anyone faced repercussions for these grave failings, or that London’s psychological warfare approaches were reformed in light of the review’s findings.

Selection of Albany’s psychological warfare campaigns in Syria

Albany was also embroiled in lavishly-funded British intelligence initiatives to “weaken the Russian state’s influence.” It achieved this by, among other things, exploiting young Russophones in the Baltic states as “agents of change,” without their knowledge or consent. When deluged with anti-Russian, pro-Western propaganda through an assortment of mediums, it was hoped these youths would unwittingly disseminate this agitprop to their wider families, and duly convert them to the NATO cause.In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albany was instructed to “assist in developing communication plans to support agreed government approach; identify target audiences and assess through analysis the most appropriate communications approach; establish required messaging and draft proposals for potential campaigns.”

To make Bosnian citizens “understand and maintain compliance” with pandemic restrictions, “several campaigns targeting different audiences (ie business owners, the general public, schools, the most vulnerable)” were envisaged.

“Use messages as basis for public information campaign to maintain compliance with necessary measures. Provide support for government communicators to ensure professional co-ordination of messages,” a leaked document orders. “Craft messages that meet the government’s ambitions and are easily understood and acted on by citizens…Develop and implement informational campaigns to deliver those messages to the public and specific target audiences where necessary.”