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The Russian Economic Influence in the Western Balkans
 
The Western Balkans have become one of the regions, in which Russia has increasingly sought to (re)assert its presence in the past decade. In attempt to improve the understanding of the impact of the interplay between existing governance gaps and the inflow of authoritarian capital in the region, the Center for the Study of Democracy developed an assessment of the Russian economic footprint in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Russian economic footprint has remained stable in the past decade in the region, with the notable exception of Montenegro, where it contracted significantly. In 2015, the share of Russian-owned or indirectly-controlled companies from the total revenues in the economy varied from as low as 1.5% in Macedonia to as high as 13% in Serbia. The Russian economic footprint in the Western Balkans has been concentrated in a small number of strategic business sectors such as energy, banking, metallurgy and real estate. Since all four economies are relatively small and dependent on energy imports, the expansion of Russian capital in the region has transformed into a source of vulnerability that has been used to pressure governments to yield on strategic decisions related to foreign and security policy. The existence of local kleptocratic networks with links to Russian-based similar entities in the energy sector, has been one of the most visible patterns of unexplained wealth-creation, which has then translated in other investments, such as real estate and banking. In this way, these networks have been provided with higher leverage over national governments, which in combination with existing governance deficits lead to state capture.

Publications

Assessing Russia’s Economic Footprint in the Western Balkans. Corruption and State Capture Risks
CSD Policy Brief No. 71: Assessing Russian Economic Footprint in Macedonia
CSD Policy Brief No. 72: Assessing Russia's Economic Footprint in Serbia
CSD Policy Brief No. 73: Assessing Russia's Economic Footprint in Montenegro
CSD Policy Brief No. 74: Assessing Russia's Economic Footprint in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe
A Revanchist Russia versus an Uncertain West: An Appreciation of the Situation since the 2014 Ukrainian Crisis
CSD Policy Brief No. 65: The Wind that Blows from the East: Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe
Shadow Power: Assessment of Corruption and Hidden Economy in Southeast Europe


Events

Helsinki Commission Briefing to Assesses Foreign Economic Influence in the Western Balkans
Foreign Meddling in the Western Balkans: Guarding against Economic Vulnerabilities
A Revanchist Russia versus an Uncertain West
Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe
The Russian Economic Footprint in Central and Eastern Europe: Addressing Strategic Vulnerabilities in Hybrid Warfare
The Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe

 
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