After Montenegro's accession to NATO and the presidential election in Serbia, many Russian observers noted that Russia was losing the Balkans. We are not going to argue whether Russia is losing or has already lost the Balkans. Yet, we will try to find out in this article whether Russia needs the Balkans.
Critics of Moscow's policy in the Balkans point out to two aspects. First off, the Kremlin has refusal to make serious attempts to put obstacles on Montenegro's NATO membership. Secondly, Moscow took no effort to ensure the victory of a pro-Russian candidate during the presidential election in Serbia. To crown it all, the critics accuse Russia of inaction in Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Strictly speaking, Moscow does show little interest in the Balkans. Protests about Montenegro's entry into the North Atlantic Alliance were sluggish and formal. Russian officials expressed their feeble protest on the subject after Montenegro joined NATO, even though the West accused Russia of plotting a coup in the former Yugoslav republic.
In Serbia, the election of President Vučić, who does not hide his pro-Western stance, did not become a reason for much concerns in the Kremlin either. The head of the Serbian government today is a lady, who enjoys the reputation of a US agent. The new Serbian president also set up a department for the European integration. Yet, Russia did not create any big story out of it.
Bulgaria's new president is a politician who declared a course towards the Russian Federation. However, his coming to power did not become a signal for Moscow to go on a strategic offensive.
Greek Prime Minister Tsipras went to Putin in a hope that Moscow would protect Athens from the financial aggression of Germany, but left with nothing.
The events in Macedonia, where Albanian parties pushed Slavic, Moscow-oriented forces, away from power, did not produce much impression on Moscow either.
These are the facts. They testify to the hypothesis about Russia's strategic retreat from the Balkan region.