The International Context of Wars in the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1991–1995)

  • Post category:Issue XX

Oleksandr Potiekhin
Doctor of History, Chief Researcher at the Institute of World History of the NAS of Ukraine


Abstract. The article attempts to explain the reasons of the Yugoslav tragedy, which claimed about 300,000 lives and led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. The author boils the answer down to the simplified and biased Western interpretation of the in-fluence of Balkan history on the situation after the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), systemic uncertain-ty in European and transatlantic relations after the end of the Cold War, adventurous and irresponsible behaviour of the leaders of several independent countries established on the ruins of the former SFRY, inadequate reaction of the United States of America (US) and NATO to the crisis, Europeans’ false initial belief that they will be able to address security challenges in the ‘new’ Europe by their own efforts.
The author emphasizes that the settlement of the Yugoslav crisis should have immediately become NATO’s priority. In such a case, Americans and Europeans could have started working together as mediators among different conflicting parties to ensure a peaceful ‘divorce’ of the republics. However, Washington did not want to see this. The US attitude to the Yugoslav crisis in 1990–1992 undermined the foundations of the declared policy of NATO’s central role in Europe after the Cold War, which envisaged the responsibility of the Alliance for resolving the Balkan conflict.
The author argues that if the deployment of an international peacekeeping contingent in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions takes an expressive form, Kyiv will need to carefully examine the factual background of the events in the former SFRY. This should help avoid many of the complications that arose during the peace enforcement operation in the Balkans in the first half of the 1990s.
Keywords: NATO, Balkans, SFRY, Yugoslav tragedy, USA.

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